Stepping into the sanctuary of my steaming shower, I sit on its built-in bench, and close my eyes as the water sprays against my face. My back against the tile, still cool; my arms lay limp at my sides, heaven. I take my time pulling my knees to my chest, and run my hands down my shins to loosen the dirt from this morning’s soccer game. Along the way I find new bruising and some broken skin, the result of playing without shin guards. I relax, before long I am making a mental “to do” list, I shake it free, and imagine it washing down the drain.
Reluctantly, I push my stiff body to stand. The scent of lemon grass and orange oil fills the air as I wash. Massaging my arms and legs, I examine my skin a little too closely. Funny dark spots I do not recall, wrinkles over my knees seem to have magically appeared, while stretch marks and scars simply will not disappear. Placing my fingertips on my chest with my thumbs in my armpits, I pull upward creating a sort of breast lift. I tug at the tops of my thighs causing the wrinkles above my knees to smooth. Next my belly, stretching loose skin until it’s taut, I sigh and shake my head. I am having a difficult time letting go of my younger self.
Before long my pleasant shower has me thinking about growing old, worse yet, growing old alone. A topic I pretend does not bother me. But it does. I want to be one of those fabulous women embracing aging. You know the ones, beautifully silver-haired, perfectly articulating words of wisdom, and evolved beyond the superficiality of outer appearances.
As I rinse, I recall a conversation I had with a girlfriend a week or so ago. We spent the afternoon together, and then sat in my car in her driveway chatting. Somehow we wandered on to the topic of aging. She admitted to being less than excited about growing old, losing her youth, as she put it. That’s all she had to say, I immediately jumped in with a litany of protests, as if aging was somehow unfair. I remembered driving home, annoyed with myself and my vanity.
Out of the shower, and slathering on lotion, my mood improves momentarily, perhaps it is the illusion of a youthful glow. I want to age gracefully, and accept my inevitable fate . . . I do . . . easier said than done. In my head, I am kicking and screaming, a silent tantrum. I am embarrassed to admit that being old doesn’t bother me nearly as much as looking old. Accepting an aging face and body makes me wince. In my best moments I transcend these shallow feelings, wearing my age proudly like a badge of honor, I look pretty good. On my worst days, I calculate the cost of plastic surgery and buy Power Ball tickets.
I towel dry my hair, and remember a time when a head of wet hair was kind of sexy. Now, I just look like I need to dry my hair, fast. I imagine this whole aging thing is easier to do with someone you love.
I spend a good amount of time with really solid couples, my closest friends. Sometimes their attraction to one another is so evident I want to scream, OK! I get it; you’re crazy about each other. STOP! More often it is the comfortable rhythm of their relationships that I covet most, the knowing that someone is always there.
I lean into the mirror one last time, look into my eyes and pause. I imagine the possibility of two loving eyes gazing back at me. Eyes that see beyond my aging face, eyes that answer the call of my heart, and somehow know the journey of my soul . . . anything is possible.