Someone, a very small someone, asked me recently how it feels to be so old. How I felt after that remark was speechless! How does it feel? Maybe the question should be a two-parter, how does it feel inside? And how about the outside?
Inside is easy. Sixteen. Call it wishful thinking, or second childhood, or whatever you want. I’ll always feel like I’m still sixteen inside, and that’s a good feeling.
Outside is totally different. Being old on the outside can vary in feeling from to week to week, day to day, and even hour to hour. There are days when I think I can still slay dragons. I don’t exactly bounce out of bed but I do give it some serious thought. Then there are days when every hair on my head hurts, my toenails too. Maybe a brief top-to-toe inventory is called for here.
I’ll admit, I do look old. There’s no fooling anybody. Layers of paint, youthful attire and hair extensions don’t camoflauge a thing. Makeup sinks into one’s wrinkles and runs down the chin in streaks. Faded jeans with ragged knees only make people cry, “Oh, you poor dear, did you fall down again?” As for the hair, mine has been white for so many decades, a green or magenta extension would only bring Halloween to mind.
I still seem to have plenty of curves but how did they end up getting rearranged into lumps in so many of the wrong places? A double chin might be excusable, but 2 or 3 more on top of the original don’t help a bit.
And wrinkles! A few could be expected and accepted, but wrinkles on top of wrinkles? No way. I have vertical wrinkles, horizontal wrinkles, and wrinkles that crisscross all the rest. My ear lobes are wrinkled. Even my toes are wrinkled. Not the wet, puckery kind you get after staying in the pool too long either. These are serious wrinkles, not bad enough to snag my sox, but I do need a larger shoe size just to accommodate them.
If only I could pull up all this sagging skin and tie it in a knot at the top of my head, I might gain back some of the height I’ve lost, not to mention getting an instant face-lift. Maybe I should try a handstand. The last time I ended up standing on my head (totally unplanned) I came out of the E.R. with 12 clamps on the crown of my head and bright red hair. Anyway, physical appearance is transient. As they say, vanity is the last thing to go.
Appearance aside, how do I really feel? How about my joints, my organs, my posture? Joints, old and creaky, organs, old and leaky, posture, old and freaky. Some things just don’t bear talking about.
So how did I answer the small someone who was so curious? I managed a big grin, crossed my fingers behind my back, and fibbed. “It feels great, child. Someday, if you’re lucky, you’ll be this old and you’ll find your heart is still young. And that doesn’t feel bad at all.”