I know, I know, it’s inevitable. I don’t have an issue with the fact that I’ll be turning 42 later this year, though. In fact, I’m proud to be where I’m at in life, even if it means spending more time getting bunion-cushioning shoe inserts and vitamin supplements than it does staying out late with friends getting sushi and drinks.
What is somewhat bizarre to me, however, is how the signs of getting older have crept up on me. Big time. We’re talking going to sleep and waking up with pains and problems that I swear didn’t exist when I went to bed.
Thing is, I’m more intrigued (and somewhat amused) by the signs of aging that seem to have suddenly hit like a ton of bricks than I am bummed out about them. Why mope around feeling miserable about something that’s a normal part of life? Wrinkles and bunions and heading to bed early? Throw it all my way! (But not too quickly, as nowadays, I often become momentarily lightheaded if I stand up too quickly.)
Here are eight ways that aging has crept up on me that I am surprisingly OK with (really).
1. I can’t wear high heels like I used to.
For as long as I can remember, I was a heel lover. Even when I commuted in New York City, I refused to wear sneakers while walking several blocks to work. I simply didn’t see the fun and fashion sense donning Nikes with a pencil skirt.
Flash forward 15 years, and past a few other careers, to just the other day when I visited my primary doctor about pain in my left foot. I walked away (in heeled boots, of course) with: a plantar fasciitis diagnosis (wha—?), foot exercise instructions involving rolling my foot on a cold bottle of water, and his observation that I also have a separate issue with my other foot in the form of a small bunion.
I may have shed a tear when I got home after the visit, standing before a closetful of shoes I may never wear again. Ah, who am I kidding?
2. I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.
Mind out of the gutter! This is all about having a certain pride and curiosity in swapping stories about changes in skin, teeth, and yes, even our increased amount of gas release (I have no shame, and let’s get real: We all do it).
Whereas there was a time I’d never bring up the topic of stray chin hairs or a creaking knee to a neighbor or stranger, I now find myself semi-bonding with the cashier about the appearance of my new mole.
“Honey, that’s nothing,” she says, as she pauses to roll her sleeve up and discuss the reason behind her 4-inch scar. We laugh. We roll our eyes. We exchange doctor recommendations. Life is good.
3. Oh, no, I’m good with just one glass of wine, thanks.
Compared to the “old me” (“old me” — now isn’t that phrase funny?) who used to be able to enjoy more than two glasses of wine, with the occasional cocktail thrown in the mix, I simply can’t tolerate much more than a couple of glasses of wine these days. It’s not that I start telling crazy stories and am unable to walk in a straight line after a couple of pinot noirs — it’s the feeling, the next morning, that teeters between a splitting headache and a dry mouth that does me in.
4. Instagram filters vs. my wrinkles: The struggle is real.
I enjoy photography, so naturally, I’m drawn to Instagram. But these days, I’m thinking a “raccoon eye” filter near the skin-smoothing “Slumber” or “Earlybird” Instagram filters would be lovely. I mean, really, since when did I wake up to both darker under eye circles and nearby wrinkles?
Just when I find one filter that softens my wrinkles, it also happens to make the rest of my eyes look like they belong to a member of KISS. If I find a filter that banishes the Gene Simmons effect, then the wrinkles are exaggerated. I can’t win. So instead, I suck it up and post many pictures sans filter. I look how I look, and I’m becoming increasingly comfortable with that. It’s obvious I’m not 20 anymore, so why should I try to be something I’m not? Besides, trying to find just the right filter can be exhausting.
And speaking of being tired…
5. A 9 p.m. bedtime (seriously) is perfectly normal.
There used to be a time — like, within the past two years — that I’d go to bed at 11 p.m. on average. I’d awaken with tons of energy, not giving any thought to when I’d gone to bed the night before.
Now sleep is something I seriously consider, plan, and live for, much like I used to ponder high heel purchases (OK, so I may never get over the heel/bunion thing). Heading out on a Friday night with my husband and our friends means living it up till the wee hours of 10:30 p.m. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. There’s a cozy bed that beckons, where I can rest my imperfect feet and soothe my soul.
6. What the heck is THAT?
Suddenly, oddball nail ridges and skin spots are appearing out of nowhere. Did I experience some of these body oddities in my 20s and 30s? Of course. But now they’ve decided to declare war on my body with gusto. I’m reminded of that boardwalk whack-a-mole game I played as a child. I get one mole removed by the dermatologist then — bam! — another one pops up. No sooner do I take care of that than the whole bunion thing kicks in. On top of this, my lips haven’t recovered from the winter season, so they’re as dry as ever. I’m talking cracking and even bleeding a little at times.
Behold: a vampire in flats, tweezers in one hand and a sleep mask in another.
7. Infomercials are delightful!
Not all of the signs of aging that have sprung up on me have been physical. For example, earlier this week, my husband and I were trying to decide what to watch on television. I kid you not, we ended up watching an infomercial for a CD collection for several minutes. Sixty minutes, to be exact.
In between “but wait, there’s more!” urgings to “call now,” we were delighted with snippets of various songs from back in the day. From Foreigner and Bad Company to Eddie Money and Creedence Clearwater Revival, it was like having a mini-concert right in our TV room. I admit that I really enjoyed listening to these throwback tunes, me in my slippers and (single) glass of wine, my husband occasionally breaking into an air guitar move.
8. Engaging in, um, elder-speak.
Back in the day, my grandmother used to talk about how the world was “going to hell in a handbasket.” My dad often asked the waiter to “top off” his coffee. Family members spoke of rouge (blush) and ranges (stoves), of increasing taxes, and of household problems. “It’s always something,” they’d say, pointing at a roof in need of replacing.
Well, that was me the other day, upon the discovery of a washer with a broken spin cycle. Couple this with my concerns over the upcoming presidential election and I’m not only asking for the waitress to top off my fourth cup of coffee (hey, I’m trying to enjoy something in the midst of the chaos), but I’m doing so while telling friends that I fear the world might be, well, going to hell in a handbasket. Yes, indeed, I’m using phrases my parents and grandparents used to, and I’m gosh-darn good at it.
Yes, aging is inevitable. But I can’t complain. I’m happy, healthy, have a wonderful husband and a roof over my head, and I enjoy my work. Sure, I have wrinkles in places I didn’t even a year ago, but I’ll deal with whatever comes my way. I’m happy with the skin I’m in. It’s a great feeling to be starting my 40s out on, you know, the right foot.