In between my eyebrows there is the start of what seems to be a dastardly clump of “fine lines.”
It’s all well and good for me to come on here and demand that women love themselves without resorting to drastic measures, when my skin is still relatively supple and I fit into most of my clothes. It’s another thing altogether to be confronted with the indefatigable fact that my fantasies of going undercover as a high school student, sorority sister, or American Idol contestant have been forever dashed against the craggy outline of my aging face. I feel betrayed. I have dutifully slathered myself in sunscreen for as long as I can remember. I don’t smoke, and I haven’t had an alcoholic beverage in over 9 ½ years. And not only am I still dealing with chin breakouts at the age of 41, now I’ve got these crinkly bits on my face. For a split second, I found myself pulling and tugging at the skin on my forehead, wondering just how painful them Botox shots really are.
And then I thought, well, hadn’t I – in a way – EARNED these? Didn’t they represent 41 years of doing and feeling stuff? I came by them honestly. They could represent any number of life events. My first year of sobriety, and having to go through all the holidays, birthdays, weddings, and other such events where drinking was a given. A lump. A mammogram. A biopsy, and then waiting not-very-patiently on the results of said biopsy. Staring down the barrel of the possible end of my marriage. 4 different moves (3 of them sans professional movers). Getting my MFA. My dad’s triple bypass. Worrying about friends and loved ones. Getting frustrated with friends and loved ones. Losing friends and loved ones. Trying not to fly off the handle when friends and loved ones keep doing the things that took the other friends and loved ones out.
Too, they could represent the many, many things that baffle me and cause me to furrow my brow. Tila Tequila. Log Cabin Republicans. People who keep trying to sell me on Ayn Rand. Glee. Fat free potato chips. Julie Taymor. Dubstep. Flip-flops worn outside of the shower/pool/beach. Rick Santorum. “Leaf Peeping.”
In the end, what are wrinkles but proof that we’re not here forever? Some people would find that terrifying. Some people find aging terrifying. I find it annoying, but necessary. I’m 41, and I don’t especially want to pass for 25. I don’t know about you, but 25 wasn’t all that great for me. You can’t go back. Well, you can – emotionally and mentally. I happen to know a thing or two about that, and I’ll tell you: sometimes certain people, places, things, and behaviors need to stay in the past.
And I’m reminded of when I first realized I had to stop drinking. I was 31, and actually quite a bit more haggard than I am now (drinking’ll do that). I would sit in church basements and – sort of – listen, but mainly I was trying to pass as someone who hadn’t been drinking just minutes before I walked in. I know now, of course, that I wasn’t fooling anyone. And yet the women in these basements treated me with such kindness when by rights they should have recoiled from me. And their stories were all over their faces, in every crease and line and wrinkle. I wanted to be, more than anything, an old sober lady. With any luck, I will be.
Fuck the Botox. I’m cultivating my line garden.