By the time you read this, I will have been 50 years old for several days. The day the column was due to the editor at The Chapel Hill News, well ... thats the day I will have crossed that most frightening of thresholds.
Well, sort of frightening, anyway. Its not as scary as the alternative, of course. Heck when I think about it, its not even as scary as The Woman in Black, a movie I saw the other night that had me quivering behind a comforter with my fingers in my ears.
Honestly, I have mixed feelings about the big five-oh. On one hand, having suffered a near-fatal brush with anorexia in my twenties, I feel pretty much lucky to be alive, not to mention having produced a child and achieved a real peace with my body and food. Thats what I call a flat-out miracle.
Also, despite occasional hiccups, I just get happier every year. The more years I live ... well, you get the picture. Also, Im getting closer and closer to heaven. Yes, sweet, sweet rest in the Everlasting Arms will be mine someday. I have no death wish whatsoever, but I am kinda looking forward to being where there is no more sorrow, no more night!
On the other hand, the aging process pretty much sucks. My body is falling apart... psoriasis, torn muscles, perimenopause, an addled brain, failing memory, high cholesterol not to mention the more superficial changes: liver spots, wrinkles, skin tags, gray hairs. Im a bit vain, so the decline in my already mediocre looks is a bit painful ... especially with the focus the media put on beauty. And living in a college town doesnt really help all these youthful figures running around in shorts and tank tops. In my house growing up, there was a huge emphasis put on appearance, and thats always in the back of my mind.
If you know me, you will doubtless say, what? Because I dont wear makeup, I dont diet, I have a great head of shaggy hair, and am just generally kind of sloppy. Youd think that a person who thinks about appearances much would make some attempt at tarting herself up. But ... nah. Im too lazy, and, frankly, I dont have the time.
I am not interested in wearing makeup or dieting or any of the more radical youth extenders like Botox or plastic surgery, but I have always been interested in fashion. Well, not fashion in the sense of what is on the runway or being sold in stores ... but style. Personal style. So one of the biggest questions I have as I grow old is what do I wear? Both now and when I am truly elderly? Occasionally I think, someday Im going to have to start dressing my age. My next thought is, Nah... Like self-proclaimed ambassador of style Simon Doonan, I loathe the idea of growing old gracefully. I fully intend to grow old eccentrically and dramatically. Brace yourselves!
As in many things, I look to musicians for cues. I few years ago I saw Robert Plant performing with Alison Krauss on their Raising Sands Tour. And while I am not a huge Zeppelin fan, I could not help but be struck by the sheer Robert Plant-ness of him. I mean, he was around 60 at the time, but he was so sultry and sexy and
so very much himself. And I thought, Hes just being himself! Thats how to age gracefully just be yourself!
So thats what I plan to do, stylewise: continuing to wear a mixture of basic and whimsical pieces in a mixture of styles: punk, preppy, hippie, vintage, quirky, athletic.
I do occasionally wonder if I look, as the British say, like mutton dressed as lamb? And how will this look when Im 60? 70? 80? You know what? From what I hear, the older you get, the less you care. (Of course, those who say this never met my mother!) In any case, if this turns out to be true for me, I might look ridiculous, but my concern will decrease proportionately.
Im not sure how I managed to boil existential questions of aging down to superficial musings about age-appropriate attire, but thats the kind of stuff I think about. And, really, the other stuff doesnt bother me. Im honestly looking forward to my old age unfolding before me, growing old with my husband and friends, watching my child grow up ... getting to know God more and more as I am buoyed higher and higher toward heaven by Gods eternal grace.