Today is my birthday. I have been having a terrible time with this. I don't really know why. You know, since I am only turning 29 again...for the 7th time.
I understand the desire to perfect our bodies, to erase the effects of time on them. Because sometimes I even shock myself when I look in the mirror, looking a lot more haggard than I remember myself to be! I guess that is what makes me have to face the hands of time…which also makes me face my mortality, neither of which are nice realities.
I notice that I pay a lot more attention to the Lorielle ads, and how old the flawless actresses are…I notice how plastic surgery has become a norm in our society, even for teens, much less those of us who seem to be sagging with the ages. But it makes me wonder, if we keep altering our bodies, then in effect aren't we making ourselves obsolete?
If I have earned every mark on my body, then isn’t every scar both inside and out, the essence of who I am? They have all been with me on my, now 36 year jaunt on this earth, and it is kind of weird to imagine erasing them the way many people do with boob jobs, face lifts, lip puffing and all the other face and body altering surgeries that people volunteer for to erase the hands of time.
I was visiting my grandmother yesterday, there was a book in the main building that was called "Getting Old is Not for Sissy's" and it had pictures of elderly athletes. I mean we are talking a 90 year old taking karate...an 83 year old open water swimmer. It was sort of awe inspiring...and it struck me, that I must be a sissy. But also made me realize that instead of worrying so much about what the hands of time are doing to me, I should revel in the path of destruction it has left on my body…it tells my story.
The older I get the more scars I have, and wear shows on my body a little more obviously. I can look at my knees and tell that I played field hockey, (I can tell by their creaking too when I go upstairs, it sounds like they are having a full fledged Rice Crispies conversation.) I can look at my three baby belly (that is no longer fit for public viewing, not that it ever could have been in the Louvre to begin with...) and know what I have to show for it. I look at the worry lines growing on my forehead, and I am pretty sure that there are three of them, and they are appropriately named after my three kids. I have a deep crevice growing between my eyebrows, an unfortunate inheritance, that is deep enough to go swimming in if I look up at the sky when it rains and I have very affectionately blamed my husband for that one…
But its not just the stress, I have that scar on one of my knees left from “catamaraning” down a big hill on my skate board with David Sundberg when I was growing up. We were too fool hearty or just too dumb to bail when we got to the curve and ended up a tangle of blood and limbs as we skidded off skateboards and onto the road. We were pretty proud of those scars…and bragged about them the rest of the summer.
All scars aren't physical either. Broken hearts, over lost loves, lost babies, even tragedies in our world have all left their mark as well. While those are not scars that any plastic surgeon could ever take care of, they surely show as well as the others by how I live and who I am.
I can remember taking a class in College where we had to write a paragraph on all the things that we would change about our past if we had a chance...A paragraph? I think mine was rivaling Tolstoy's War and Peace.
In amazement at the dissertations that lay before her, our professor said, the important thing to remember is that if you change something about your past, or something about who you have been, you negate who and where you are now. Everything that we have done has led us to where we are today, and everything that we have experienced, has made us who we are today. To change those things, to erase that history, and would change our reality today.
An interesting concept because in many ways, I don't think that the fabric of my being would be changed if I could just remove that extra ass I have attained through the years, or that the face of history would be altered if I could just have NOT been as much of a self absorbed jack ass in college. But then I think, maybe it would.
Maybe being a self absorbed jack ass at 20 makes me all the more empathetic to the world’s plights at 36. Or having to deal with a growing rear-end makes me face the fact that we aren’t 20 forever, and how much do I have pinning to my looks anyway? There ought to be more to worry about in this world than my thighs rubbing together.
So I guess getting a tummy tuck is out of the question. Being that self-absorbed and idiotic when I was in my 20's means that I get it that spending that kind of money on eliminating the fat that my children helped to create, would ultimately mean that I think my fat belly is worth more than the people in India, or Africa, (or even Portland for that matter) who can't eat because they don't have enough expendable cash...and then, what would that say about me?
Scar-less, both in body and heart, maybe means non-existent...and just perhaps, projecting that, would show my kids, that there is too much out there in this world, and in your life, to stay stuck in your own head for the entirety of it.
So happy birthday to me…but I am still saying I am 29 again…because that is how old I feel!