It took me many years to come to terms with how I look when for the first 20 years I was harassed by my peers (and family) for my enviable physical attributes: my weight (a good wind will blow you away!), my teeth (Gopher Gerkmaidenname), my bad skin, my lack of boobs, and my ugly hair (that my mom would perm every year just in time for school pictures THE NEXT DAY!).
During high school, I went on one date with someone from my school. There was no second date since I refused to give him a handjob in his truck after he took me home and parked in front of my house. I would have been dateless my junior year for prom if I hadn’t asked a total stranger who had stopped in at the café I worked and I was dared by my coworkers to invite him. I never saw him again after prom. I was decidedly dateless my senior year.
I was in college before anyone ever told me I was pretty. Of course I called him a fucking liar. I called them all liars for years because I still saw a pimply-faced, scrawny, flat-chested girl when I looked in the mirror. It took a long time for me to accept that I wasn’t the hideous troll my peers had led me to believe. I started to enjoy the double-takes from the opposite sex when out in a public setting or driving my car. It’s a heady feeling.
Sometime during our infertility treatment, my ego took one horrible hit after another. I gained weight and frown lines. Jowls formed and wrinkles deepened. I was tired all the time and Sparring Partner seemed less and less interested in groping me (even though I HATE it when he does a drive-by goosing!).
I share an office with a 23 year old and when I talk to him, I wonder what he’s thinking as he’s looking at me. Does he think I’m attractive or does he have me in the same category as his mom, which I’m old enough to be?
I am not taking aging well. Almost every day I mourn the day before because I was younger THEN. I’ll continue to get older and older and no one will remember that I was once young and pretty. My children will soon look at pictures of me from long ago and remark HOW YOUNG I USE TO BE, as if it had never occurred to them that I was once. My daughter sees my face and positively lights up with recognition and unconditional love, but even that makes me sad because someday she won’t remember me now. She’ll be 16 and see an old woman as her mom. It scares me. It makes my heart tighten in my chest.
After years and years of physical inactivity, I just started an exercise program. I was prepared to collapse half-way (if not earlier) into the session, but I surprised myself by being able to successfully complete 45 minutes of aerobics with weights. Sure I broke a major sweat and I wanted to choke the instructor with the rubberband rope after I heard her say, “Just 5 more!” for the 20th time, and my legs wobbled when we were done and my arms shook with fatigue as I completed the membership card. But I did it, and it felt awesome. The next morning I was sore, not so much I couldn’t move, but sore enough to know I did something good for my body.
I’ve realized I can be Age’s bitch trudging reluctantly along, or I can go kicking and screaming ten pounds lighter and without bingo arms. Well, fuck you, Age. I know I can’t get younger or pretty again, but I don’t have to look older, either.