Bralettes & Minivans

The other night, I was watching television with my husband, and an attractive woman clearly over the age of 60 professed, “Well that’s what 20 year-olds think!” I practically jumped up from my seat on the couch in disagreement, “HEY!” I shouted at the flatscreen, “stop telling us what 20 year-olds think—you don’t know!” The moment the words came out of my mouth, they hit the air and instantly dissipated into a hypocritical cloud of dust that settled on me. Because what I meant when I said it was, “Stop speaking for us.” Us. Us 20 year olds.

I am turning 34 this year.

My 30s are are place of perpetual duality. I cannot drink, or eat, or stay up late, or even sleep in like I could in my 20s, and yet, I have somehow convinced myself that not only am I still young, but I sometimes believe that I am still in my 20s. Someone asked me, not that long ago, how old I was, and to my shock I confidently answered, “Twenty four.” And then I laughed awkwardly and said, “Sorry, I have no idea why I said that. I’m actually thirty three.” Ooops?

The year I turned 30, I would proudly announce to people, “I am thirty!” Because it was exciting and I loved to see the look of amazement on people’s faces when they said, “WOW! I thought you were in your 20s.” Those comments are less and less these days as the years are starting to appear in small ways on my face. I didn’t even get carded at the liquor store the other day, and I was all ready with my license! This is not a complaint, so much as it is a casual observation about my changing landscape. I am proud to be aging, and honestly, aging pretty well. Although, I am puzzled about how I can go to sleep perfectly fine and wake up with a sore back.

Here at 33, there are the beginnings of lines between my eyebrows, and there are small crows feet by my eyes, especially when I smile. The other day, as I tried to gently pinch away a fleck of stray mascara, the skin under my eye took an abnormal amount of time to bounce back from my pinch. My face, which was once nearly flawless, is now punctuated not only by acne, depending on where I am in my cycle, but also by an overall more rough appearance. My lips are not as pink or as plump as they used to be, and I swear, my nose keeps growing. I do not cover any of this with makeup because this is what I look like, and I am proud of that.

With all of these years behind me, one would think I have mastered my domain. But I have yet to crack the code of what type of skin I have. Is it oily or dry? Beats me, man. I try various products with no regularity and none of it helps. I do floss regularly, but I still have those weird dreams about my teeth falling out, so I am not sure if it’s working or not. And I’m now responsible for a whole child, which I think we aren’t fucking up too bad. Although, during a conversation about good touch/bad touch she did ask me, “What if someone tries to touch my asshole?” And as I told her that no one should ever be touching her “asshole.” I also kind of laughed because I think more than wanting to know if someone should or shouldn’t be touching it, she probably just wanted to say the word “asshole.”

Paradoxically, despite all this, I find a growing confidence coming to life. I proudly wear my high waisted jeans and my crop tops. I think I look better than ever, not because of the clothes, but because of the way I feel in them. I have finally settled on the hairstyle that makes me feel the me-iest. Since underwire is a torture device, and I will not subscribe, I wear Calvin Klein bralettes. Yes, my breasts look small, and you know why? Because they are small. And not the cute, perky small they once were. They are the breasts of a woman who breastfed for the better part of four years. I’m not going to put them in shaped cups to hide the truth of their bittiness. They are bitty, and to me, beautiful.

I dance to the latest Indie and Pop music, and I believe I am cool driving down the road in my ten-year-old minivan that we bought off Craig’s List. As I blast music, with my nearly five year old in the backseat bopping around, I think to myself, “Why didn’t I drive a minivan ten years ago? This is the coolest car I have ever had!” There is room for my tea, my water, my snacks, and my giant purse. If I was 20, I would have been able to fit all those things, plus my friends, into this van. My husband and I still act as though this is possible when we say, “This van was such a great purchase—there is so much room for our friends!” But we know that our friends will almost always opt to drive their own minivans because they might want to leave early.

Leaving early is almost always necessary when you have kids, aging pets, careers, and all of the other responsibilities you didn’t have in your 20s. Maybe all of these responsibilities have a way of shifting our thinking. It certainly has a way of making one try to conform, only to realize that conformity is hardly worth the cost. So I try to feel my youth because I am still young, but not as young as the younger young person. And that stings a bit as I shout at the woman just ahead of me on the life chain on the television and I see myself reflected back. I’m not sure if I enjoy the view, so I cock my head and contemplate all of these concepts from my face to my breasts, and my inability to sleep in, and my minivan.

And I, in the midst of thought and heavy silence, suddenly come to accept I am no longer in my 20s.

My heart will continue to believe she is timeless, which, of course, she is. That is the answer. There is, in each of us, a timeless portion of our heart that cannot be divorced from our youth. I love deeply the part of me that hears “those young people” and immediately fires back, “What do you know?!” It’s probable that even the commentator on television, well into the upper part of midlife, thinks that she knows what 20-year-olds are thinking just as I have purported.

But deep down she probably also knows, like me, that there is this other part of us that is rooted in humanity and the inescapable timeline of years. We gather experiences like a snowball rolling downhill until we have become so heavy we stop and are planted. As we sit there-- a chunky hard bit of snow--the sun comes out, the season changes, and then we begin to melt until we are once again small, and then nothing at all.

No comments:

Post a Comment