Growing up, I always pictured age twenty-five being the absolute pinnacle of adult life. Perhaps this is why when on my twenty-fifth birthday a teenage boy called me “ma’am,” I kind of lost it a little. My thoughts progressed from “Ma’am? Who is he talking to? Me? No, must be the lady be…ugh. No one behind me. Yup, he called me ma’am.” to “Whoa. Wait a minute, if twenty-five is the highlight of my life, what do I even have left to live for?” One thing led to another and the next thing I knew, I had gotten something pierced. Nothing too exotic: Just an additional hole in my ear. But I paid for that quarter-life crisis for the entire two years it took for the thing to heal properly. I’ve since realized that twenty-five is no more the highlight of life than dropping your smart phone in the toilet is the lowest point. I no longer experience an emotional crisis when my birthday approaches and I’m grateful for each additional year and the wisdom that comes with it.
What does upset me is a series of age related changes that I did not see coming. At least not until I was, like, ninety. It seems that after my thirtieth birthday, some kind of switch flipped in my body and nothing is as it was.
Attack of the Mutant Hairs
I begin with the topic of hair growth as this has been the hardest age-related change for me to understand. One day, the world makes sense. The next, I have a dark, one inch long hair growing out of the middle of my forehead. There cannot be a biological purpose for a single hair to grow in that location. Furthermore, I simply don’t understand how it could get to that length when I spend a few minutes looking in a mirror specifically to address my eyebrows each and every day. My forehead is not the only place that I find randomly misplaced hairs – my chin, my arms, the area that would contain a side burn if I were a male. I’ve begun to keep a pair of tweezers anywhere I may spend time. This is the only defense I have against these super-fast growing mutant hairs that must be eradicated immediately upon discovery.
The Subtle Workings of a Lap Blanket
Over the past five years or so, I’ve noticed that I’m much more bothered by the cold than I used to be. In fact, it seems that my sensitivity to cold grows stronger each year. A long time ago, I inherited a lap blanket that my great-grandmother had crocheted. I remember thinking when I received it, “This is very pretty but what kind of situation would call for someone to need a blanket, but only on their lap?” Age has helped me to answer this question. I was sitting at my desk at work the other day and I was so cold my bones hurt. It was the first day of chilly Fall-like weather and the heating system in the building had not yet caught up to the temperature outside. I found myself thinking, “I could use a blanket. But wouldn’t it be convenient if I had one that would cover only my lap area? That’s all I really need just now.”
Wish List of the Aging
My family asked me to compile a wish list for my last birthday. It appears that thirty-three is older than I thought. The items I wanted most in the world included a neck pillow for the car, a large tub of Eucerin cream for my heels, some lavender-scented bubble bath, and a new book light. After I completed my list, I thought, “Geez. Throw in a tube of Preparation H and you’ve got yourself a nice care package for the infirmed.”
I’ve begun to openly wear holiday shirts, sweaters, socks, and jewelry. This is a behavior that I once viewed as painfully uncool. But in the last few years, I’ve been more and more drawn to these items in the stores. When I purchased my first sparkly Halloween shirt, I justified it by pointing out that I work with children. My sisters, both younger than me, rolled their eyes. Now, though, I don’t even try to justify my festive attire. I just like wearing it. So there.
You Kids Turn Down That Crazy Rock and Roll!
With age, I’m finding that I have much more interest in current events, world and local news, and political issues. In fact, I more often than not, listen to news and talk radio. I’ve even noticed that sometimes music sounds like noise to me. It’s not that I don’t appreciate music; it’s just that sometimes it’s too loud and it drowns out my ability to remember what I was supposed to be doing. I think that’s an age-related change too: Frequently forgetting what I was doing, saying, or thinking and having to literally or mentally back track until I figure it out. I’m certain I’m not alone in this – it seems pretty normal. I’ve just noticed it happens more often than it used to. Now, what was I saying? Noise…music…politics…Oh yes. I care more about civic and political happenings and get really excited about elections, state of the union addresses, and other assorted events that previously would have been an annoying interruption of my usual activities of daily living.
Thank You, WebMD
I think I have the arthritis. As the weather has gotten cooler, I’ve noticed aches and pains in my fingers and toes. This feels like the kind of thing one shouldn’t have to contend with until their late eighties. But alas, here I am, in my early thirties, chilled to the bone and arthritic. Thank goodness for my lap blanket.
It’s Not All Bad…
There are some positive changes that have come with age. For instance, I know what I like, what makes me happy, and what doesn’t. This knowledge gives me a sense of control over my mood so it’s easier to cope with a bad day or a difficult life stressor. I don’t worry about what other people think (see “festive attire” above). The self-consciousness that arrived with adolescence has relaxed and I am free to be me. I am more able to truly appreciate what I have and more importantly, who I have. The very best change that has come with age is that I’m not afraid to speak out or stand up for myself. For example,
Dear Lady at Target in Orland Park, IL who in 2005 took a handheld vacuum out of my hand and put it in her cart,
At the time, I said nothing to you. This is partially because I was shocked someone would do that and also because I wasn’t sure what to do in the face of such rudeness. Now, to you I say…Your behavior was quite discourteous. I hope you accidentally sucked your hair up in said vacuum and that it was very, very uncomfortable for you for several minutes.