Sometimes I feel like my face is a science experiment. It seems like in the last couple of years my cumulative years of living have really started to display themselves – on my face. There are new creases and wrinkles, evidence of the passage of time and, most especially, of living.
I have mixed feelings about this. Sometimes, I nod my head and acknowledge the aging process as the gift that it is. We all know the alternative, right? I try to embrace the changes thinking of each tiny line as a beautiful souvenir. Often it works.
Yesterday, though, I was at hot yoga, working hard for a standing balance pose and I noticed a difference in the appearance of the skin on my knees. It looked a little…crepe-y. Not saggy, really, just not taut. It bothered me.
Personally, I am not interested in availing myself of surgery or other medical interventions as an attempt to fight off time. I’m certainly not above spending more than I ever could have predicted on eye cream and moisturizer (with sunscreen, of course), but that’s all I’m really comfortable with. At this time.
I’ll continue to exercise, drink lots of water and slather that tender skin under my eyes using my ring finger, which is reputed to be the most delicate. I’ll keep working on my standing split and accepting that it’s what’s under the skin that counts the most.
Where do you draw the line?
Despite my attempts at processing the hundreds of distinct thoughts and images in my head following my trip to the past last weekend, my mind is still in a whirl. During my drive north, while I tried to assert a sense of order to all that had been stimulated in my head, I realized that the 30th reunion I had attended had prompted more questions than it had answered and I wondered if other alumni felt the same way. I wished that I were better in those sorts of situations, more open to approaching others and initiating conversations. I had wanted to feel a connection with those around me, a connection which ultimately I could only find in fits and starts.
I’ve attended each reunion planned by the class Dynamo, Robin. There have been four. If I take the time to consider what compels me to insert myself in an environment which doesn’t necessarily feel comfortable, my only conclusion is that I’m seeking something, some sort of resolution or denouement.
Kind of silly, right? What can be learned from surrounding myself by people with whom I shared a building, along with some experiences 30 years ago? I just don’t know.
High school was not four years of social activities and academic achievements for me. I was not present for much of it, figuratively and literally. I felt lost in the hugeness of the high school after the intimate experience of my Greenwood Lake education, going from a class of 65 to one of more than 400 in the blink of an eye. Cliques and expectations were well established and I flitted between groups (heads, brains, jocks) committing to none.
Each reunion has invoked a similar lack of ability to engage. I simply don’t know what to say to anyone. There are familiar faces, some from high school so long ago, others from social media, and flashes of memories race through my mind. But where does one start when it comes to covering the last three decades? And – to what purpose? My high school experience will never change and my future probably doesn’t include any of the people I struggle with to make meaningful conversation. If an opportunity presented itself – say a classmate was going to be in the Albany area and wanted to grab a cup of coffee or glass of wine, I’d be interested. I’m just more comfortable interacting in a smaller, lower-volume setting. Perhaps that’s my take away, my conclusion?
I think this was my last reunion.
It was summer and I was about 13 years old. I don’t know what initially started the disagreement, but words flew between me and the other girl. She was from a family of girls and she was far meaner than I. She wrapped up her verbal assault with a shocking assertion regarding my mother, my brother and myself. The sound of her words stung me with an undeniable ring of truth and I immediately recognized that secrets hurt.
Secrets are kind of like snakes – what makes them scary is that they appear unannounced. If only they would wear collars with bells which tinkled as they approached! Since that isn’t realistic, living life in the open without rocks to hide under seems to me to be the best way of preventing things from sneaking up you. So, that’s what I do.
The secrets that Mary Lambert sings about are not my own, yet this song still perfectly expresses my own sensibility of secrets. I don’t care if the world knows what my secrets are. So what.
Another year around the sun complete. Some words which moved me – to smile, to laugh, to think, to cry.
Life is full. Times passes quickly. Each day is a gift.
Filed under aging, birthdays
You remember that Billy Preston song, don’t you? I don’t think I’ve heard it or even thought of it in at least 20 years. Until about two weeks ago, that is. The context that day was a theme park, a carousel, and a boy. The song popped into my head and caused me to smile.
The most recent mowing of my neighbor’s yard also featured circles. I know I’ve shared before the artistic mowing for which, among his other artistic endeavors, my neighbor is known. As soon as I saw the pattern from my deck, I once again heard that tune bouncing around in my brain.
During my run last night, the song came for the third time. These things usually happen in threes, right? I was reflecting on a personal situation and thought about the uncountable conversations which seem to consistently travel in a circular fashion. Although I like to travel in a circle, preferring to take a different route home than the one I took during departure, when it comes to relationship interactions, circular is definitely not satisfying.
Will it go round in circles? Will it fly high like a bird up in the sky?
I just don’t know.
One of the highlights of my Florida trip was a brief get together with one of the three women I consider to be my true mothers. Our reunion was surprisingly emotional for me – you know I’m no crier, yet that’s exactly who I became in her embrace. I can’t help but wonder if the sense of comfort and safety I feel with her is what most people receive from their own mothers. I’ll never really know for sure unfortunately, but how blessed am I to find it with someone else? Very.
Growing up, Sandy was my mother’s friend. Our families spent holidays together, eating Italian and Jewish and German specialties and playing backgammon for Marlboros. I’d never known a family like Sandy’s – around the table at Christmas you’d find she and her husband and their daughter. Also present would her two children from her previous marriage, as well as her husband’s son from his first marriage. Often, the father of Sandy’s older children would be there, too, with his son from his second marriage. There were Italians and Jews and my own little German threesome and it was the most wonderful thing imaginable.
Maybe that’s where I learned that the word “family” defies definition. I grew to understand that people came together because of love and that love evolves, sometimes changing form, but unfailingly remaining a force. Love was powerful and unifying, not destructive nor isolating. Love trumped anger and envy and was to be respected. That being said, I always thought that Sandy’s older daughter wished her mom was more like mine – structured, reliable and consistent. Naturally, I wished for a mom who was like Sandy, emotional, inspired by passion and inclined to relaxing in a bathtub with bubbles and maybe a joint.
As I got older, Sandy provided me with what my own mother could not – a roof over my head when our house burned down, encouragement to end a stagnating relationship, the confidence to believe that I could do anything. She convinced me that I was beautiful and smart and good and the trill of her laughter remains one of my favorite sounds.
We’ve been separated by hundreds of miles for many years now. There have been occasions, including a Thanksgiving decades ago when Sandy prepared an entire traditional dinner, threw it into the car and served it on a picnic table at the beach, when we’ve gotten together, but this recent visit was the first in far too long. For the first time ever I was able to take care of her. I selected the hotel knowing that she would get a kick out of staying at the Hilton on the beach. There was lunch poolside and talk and more talk. We caught up and found we were, despite all the changes and challenges we’ve each faced, as always, family. She’s truly the mother of my heart.
Have you heard this catchy little tune by Echosmith? When it comes on the radio Quinn always ask me to turn it up “like a party” and he sings along to the lyrics:
“I wish that I could be like the cool kids,
‘Cause all the cool kids, they seem to fit in…
I wish that I could be like the cool kids,
‘Cause all the cool kids they seem to get it.”
It breaks my heart a little bit each time.
Don’t you remember those kids? The ones who seemed to always have the right clothes and the right hair and could always say and do the right thing? Their shiny perfection made everything a regular kid did seem dull in comparison.
I wasn’t one of the cool kids. Although I had plenty of friends, I certainly wasn’t in the upper social stratosphere. Somehow I survived school, and even eventually went back to revisit those days for a couple of reunions – the 10th, the 21st (don’t ask), the 25th. What I’ve learned over the years, though, is we all have more in common than we ever would have allowed ourselves to imagine when we were fellow students. We each have strengths and weaknesses, parts which are attractive and some which are less appealing and successes and failures. We’re human.
Every September is a reunion for school kids. I want my children to understand that being one of the cool kids in school isn’t a guarantee of a lifetime of happiness. Summer experiences and growth have the potential to impact every child. Attitudes and preferences change and each new academic year is a clean slate of opportunity for everyone. Getting that is ultimately far more important than fitting in.