[The Sunday Scribblings topic this week is "Aging".]
Do you remember when it was still possible to scoff about aging? To laugh off anxieties about crow's feet, to tease your mother when she insisted you Photoshop her neck smooth in a photo? Maybe you're still young and smooth, haven't begun to experience the subtle, early ways your skin loses its tension and its glow. You can't yet imagine. Maybe you have not yet bought your first expensive moisturizer just for your neck.
You'll get there.
I don't mean that in any taunting, cruel way. Of course the young can't imagine. There are many things that I, at 37, cannot yet imagine. We are all as old as we have ever been, and for each of us the hope is that we will get much older. I want to live to be 106, be the spry old lady, taking long walks every morning with her even-older, equally spry husband, talking wistfully about their youth in the last century, how home computers didn't exist until they were teenagers!!! Think how prehistoric that will sound in seventy years!
I fear the other things I will be able to say in seventy years. Like:
"When I was young, there were still tigers on Earth."
To the kids of the year 2079, I'm afraid, this will sound like fantasy. Tigers. Real tigers, in real jungles!
When our grandparents were young, I think they imagined they would grow old to witness an age of flying cars and colonies on Mars. Now, we look forward to the end of all jungles, the melting of polar ice caps. The sci-fi of the 50s was shiny. Our sci-fi is post-Apocalyptic. Lovely.
But back to skin. Have you heard the word "senescence"? The dictionary describes it as simply "growing old, aging." Wikipedia is more cruel: "a process induced by evolution into our genetic make up so as we live to our healthiest until our reproductive age and die slowly and gradually thereafter." Sigh. We are dying slowly and gradually. I don't like that definition much. That is not what I am doing, thank you very much, wikipedia auteur! I prefer to call this: living.
But alas, we will senesce. Our skin is the first thing to betray us. Me, I have this nascent crease in my neck, this new, subtle looseness in the skin above my eyes. When I'm tired, there's sometimes a crease in my left eye lid. I have a tiny red age speck dead center in my forehead, which I suppose will continue to grow until it looks like a bindi. Perhaps I will give in to vanity and have it lasered away. Or perhaps I will begin to put sparkly stick-on jewels right on top if it. Who knows.
And then, of course, I get to have my years rubbed in my face these days because I am of "advanced maternal age." My eggs are old. Want to hear something CRAZY? My daughter, my in-utero daughter, who is 22 weeks along, has already formed every egg she will ever produce! How INSANE is that??? I knew all this from long-ago biology classes but had forgotten until several years ago when Jim and I decided we'd better consider begetting ourselves some offspring before it was too late. Too late for ME of course, not him. Men don't have to worry; they can keep sowing their seed until they're old feeble patriarchs!
Alas, this is just part of our journey as complex organisms. Single-celled organisms, apparently, do not senesce. But would you want to be a single-celled organism? Ehh, not so much. Huh, apparently lobsters and perennial plants do not undergo cellular senescence, but I wouldn't really want to be a lobster or a foxglove either. I'll be a human, and I'll keep an eye on my neck, stay out of the sun, eat my green vegetables, go for walks, and hope for the best! Oh, and I'll also keep my hair pink and wear silly T-shirts, and if people don't look too closely, maybe they'll think I'm as young as I feel!
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Hear my voice?
By the way, not at all on the subject of aging, there is an interview with me -- my first phone interview ever -- at Next Chapter: 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women. I'm the last in a series of interviews conducted by the wonderful Jamie Ridler as part of her blog-based book group centered around Gail McMeekin's book The 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women. I was honored to be included in a list of 12 amazing women, some of whom were the first bloggers I ever read. I was really nervous to be interviewed out loud, but Jamie was lovely to talk to, and though I have only listened to parts of it so far, I don't think I made an idiot out of myself! All the interviews, by the way, are going to be compiled into one CD that will be available for purchase. Jamie is sure to do more amazing groups like this, so stay tuned in over at her site.