Getting older doesn’t have to suck. There is acquired wisdom. There are the blessings that accompany age, like seeing your children become amazing adults and then being given the ultimate gift of grandchildren. There is the realization that every day is a present that you get to open. Life is so fleeting; it is over in a flash. When we are young, an hour lasts forever, and both the best times and the worst seem to yawn on endlessly. We anxiously rush through high school, eager to “get on with it” and curse every moment we must wait. Suddenly, we’re in our late 40s and we find it incredible that, as 20-somethings, we thought 50 was ancient.
Let me tell you fuckers, 50 ISN’T old. As a 49 year-old, I can assure you that we were wrong. This body has mileage on it, yes. Three babies, more than a few fractures, surgeries, and arthritis have limited me in minor ways. I don’t spring into action like I used to, and there are days when I want to cry, I hurt so bad. But fuck that. I don’t. I push on, because I’ve acquired a belief that if you stop, you might as well die. I pop the pills and break out the heating pad and try to be safe. Mostly. And sometimes, I forget that 50 looms and I stand on a wobbly stool on an uneven surface and I hang Halloween lights and by the grace of God I don’t fall THIS time and break my ass. When I was 25 I did that shit constantly because I was young and vital and if I fell, so what? I could jump right back up. Time was on my side and recklessness was the adrenaline coursing through my veins. Old people broke their hips. Old people had difficulty grasping things and opening jars and pill bottles. Well, “old” is definitely a point-of-view to me, and while I haven’t broken a hip, I realize that the odds are in favor of that if I keep acting like a 25 year-old. The difficulty grasping is already a daily irritation.
My problem is that I still feel like a 25 year-old. Actually, somewhere in my 30s, with enough mileage on me to make me tough but with enough youth remaining to deem me vital and relevant to the rest of the world. 50 year-olds don’t attract the same attention as younger versions of themselves do. 50 year-olds who act the age they feel are laughed at or called “sad” or desperate or thought to be “having a middle-age crisis”.
Well fuck you, judgers.
I understand…..FINALLY…… why old people say they’ve “earned the right” to say what they want. To act how they want. To have no filter. You know why? Because they HAVE. You don’t need any more reason than that. When you reach the age where you realize this, you’re going to laugh and ruefully admit that you’ve become your mom or your dad. When you mutter tiredly, “I’m old”, it will be with a mixture of revulsion and pride. And when you shout “GET OFF MY LAWN!” you’ll realize it:
Fucking shit, it really is infuriating to work so hard to get the grass just so and then to see some little fucker run through it!
What I find to be bullshit is something much simpler: wear-and-tear on the face. The sagging of once majestically pert tits. And the hair color issue. Burns my ass! I have colored my hair since I was 16. I’ve been virtually every shade of red, brown, black, purple, pink, and green. Every so often, I like to return to my natural shade of darkest brown. I begin with black and let it fade. Autumn is usually when I do it, and it makes me feel good to sport that dark shade.
Until this time.
My natural hair color is no more. It has been replaced almost entirely by that harbinger of all things geriatric: white. White is pretty, and dignified on an 80 year-old. White is not so much on a 49 year-old. I hate white. I can’t wear it. It gets dirty too fast and it washes me out. It’s a vicious thing, age. It robs us of our tight skin, our perky boobies, our elastic bodies, and the melanocytes. Here’s the thing about coloring your hair dark when you have white roots: it’s impossibly high-maintenance. It’s a pain in the ass. And that’s another gift that getting older bestows upon us. We simply haven’t got time for all that maintenance. We’re too busy developing our bucket lists and going to the doctor for more drugs and yelling at those little fuckers on our lawns.
And so, tonight, I am giving the husband what he wants ( No, you dirty minds, not THAT. You’re nasty!) and dying the hair red again, with blonde streaks. It camouflages those white roots better. It’s also a younger version of me, which is who I am inside this 49 year-old shell. And that’s the irony of getting older, too. We’ve earned the right to act as young as we want to, even if we could conceivably break a hip in the process.
I like the safer bet of sporting red hair, myself.