I have been teaching and talking the beauty business since I was in my late twenties. I remember like it was yesterday, women who are my age now, saying, “Just wait.” I looked in the mirror as I do everyday and have done for most of my life and realized, it has happened. The “just wait” has happened. The weird lines forming in places I swear weren’t there yesterday, the hairs sprouting from places other than my head, eyebrows and eyelashes. The white wiry hairs showing up in my eyebrows, my eyelashes and yes my vagina hair, what the fuck.
I somewhat defiantly decided to stop coloring my hair over ten years ago and it is whiter than ever, quite the beauty trend these days, who knew? At least this is one part of my hair growth I can say I love. People regularly tell me how much they love my hair. I often reply that there has to be some benefit to the quantity of hair growth because along with this thick attractive mane I am blessed with, comes regular appointments in the magnifying mirror with the tweezers. I keep the local electrologist in business and thank goodness I own a beauty business because waxing is like a full time job. Have I mentioned that when I decide to tweeze one of those wiry white eye brow hairs, my eyebrows lose their shape pronto.
With all of this obsession of hair removal which by the way will never be finished, comes that pesky problem of a weaker eye sight. Perhaps part of the divine order of things is that the weakening eyesight means I can see less so therefore can stop obsessing about the perpetual removal of the never ending hair supply. Could this be an unintended blessing? Doubtful, since now nighttime driving is becoming more and more challenging. So much for divine intervention.
The other life changes that fall into the ‘Just Wait’ category are the belly bloating that happens after one glass of wine and seems to now last well over a few wine free days. Then there is that weird creppy dry skin no oils or creams seems to remedy and believe me when I tell you I have access to the best. Though in all truth here, the rose and jojoba oil I sell is hands down the best I have found. The weird skin texture change, thought is in the infancy stages and I am guessing my years of continued sun exposure have something to do with its residence and there is simply no stopping it.
Add to the abundant supply of visual body changes all of those sun spots showing up on my face, my hands and my chest. I can just hear my grandmother Isabelle’s unsolicited stay out of the burning sun advice I will likely pass on to my granddaughter if I ever have the good fortune to have one in my life.
Of course no matter how much I work out, eat better, my body shape is forever different. One because of my age and my life experience, but also because of four surgeries in two years. Scars, indentations, lumpiness all contribute to this new body shape I have come to really admire and embrace like a warrior wound. At least my breasts are upright and super rocking. Not too many of my fifty something girl friends can say this. (On this note, thank goodness.)
The deep inherited lines that seem like a genetic rite of passage and not necessarily in a good way, have also been a new observation. There is this grown up woman in the reflection staring back almost daring me to question their placement.
“Stop frowning,” I can hear my mother saying when I was a child (back when Ann was speaking to me), “We’ll never find you a rich Jewish husband if you have frown lines. It makes you look old.” The fact was I wasn’t frowning, I was squinting because my eyesight since I was in second grade was always weak and I just squinted to see better. Oh yeah, and then there was the actual commentary that likely requires its own separate writing at a later time. How about instead of looking for a man to supplement me, giving me a message of my own ability to take care of my own lovely bad ass self? I am guessing that this would have required my mother to feel this way about herself and this was likely not the case in her twenties, married with a six year old and a newborn. There was always an underlying half joking/ half seriousness to the one liners like this. They undoubtedly found their way into my belief systems forming opinions of myself as I foraged my own self worth and my ability to provide for myself. Instead I got married way too early and no, he wasn’t Jewish or a doctor, but his kind heart was spectacular, certainly a most important criteria for a partner at 24.
In my cleaning of the closets and of the stuff, I came across a book that my mother had given me when I first opened my business and it seemed as our relationship was in the ebb and flow of better for a moment. The book was, The Easy to Read, “The Little Engine That Could,” by Walter Piper. I opened it knowing there would be an inscription. Her familiar writing stared back with its kind encouraging words, “Dearest Alayne, Whenever you doubt your decision, just read this book. I love you, Mom.” Even though it was a children’s book, there is definitely a memory of this book in my early childhood. I often wondered if my mother gave me this book because it triggered a memory of a happier time in her life where she remembered the love she had for me then, before it got all wonky and foggy from years of alcohol abuse. There were times in the ebb and flow my mother probably tried just like there were probably times I tried too, it’s just that at the times each of us made the attempt, it was in gestures, but never a healthy discussion to repair the wounds. Gestures are like bandaids, at some point you have to take them off and let the air in and we never did that.
My hair and skin texture have changed, but so has my personal texture. These physical changes that have become a regular occurrence in my exterior are ironically creating a deeper meaning on my insides. I amaze myself at how much I have come to really enjoy the changes. This has surprised me the most.
Maybe this is the point of aging and releasing the peripheral image of our youth we have equated with beauty, the work of letting go of what we thought of was beauty at one point in our lives in fact goes within simply because there is no alternative. My hair is not going to get darker, my stomach is not going to be a six pack, my eye sight will not improve and the spots on my face from too much sun worshipping that I still continue to indulge in will surely not lessen. The only thing I can do is to work on my insides with patience, love and admiration. The calmness and joy I feel just by looking up and looking out these days is both refreshing and liberating. I recently hired three new employees who are in their early twenties. As I speak with them often and listen to their language about life, I realize our huge age gap. Not just in numbers, but in outlook and thought patterns. I can say with absolute truth that I would never want to go back to that time in my life. This is a wonderful aspect of aging, knowing that you couldn’t pay me to go back to that age, no matter, no matter how smooth my skin was and how tight my ass was. I way prefer my aging and peaceful head any day.
Though I haven’t said it aloud, I have found myself thinking, Just Wait.
The book from Ann and my bad ass lovely 52 year old self. Just Wait.