I'm going to be 43. I don't much mind. Inside feels pretty much the same as 34. And 34 felt pretty much like 23. Some days, 23 wasn't that different from 12. I like to think I'm a little smarter and wiser than I was then, but for the most part, not much has changed.
I still giggle inside when I hear words like "weeny". I still pout when I don't get to hold the remote control. I still long for a hug from my mom or my dad when things get tough. I still wish for snow days, even in the desert. I still love Kraft Dinner. Inside, not much has changed.
But outside is another matter. My hair started going prematurely grey at the age of 18. The dent in my chair has decidedly expanded even though I could swear my bottom is just as tiny and taut as it was 10 years ago. But then again this could be explained by the fact that my memory now fails me at least once daily, and my vision has gone sadly downhill over the last decade. Sciatica kicks in once a year, and every eight or nine months I find myself assaulted by hot flashes. I find it hard to stay up past 9:00 p.m. on a weekend, and my joints seem to pop a lot more as I climb out of bed in the morning.
For the most part, I think I camouflage the physical changes fairly well. Spanx, a good pair of heels, a proper brassiere, and age-appropriate dresses that cover sagging upper arms and ever so slightly wrinkly knees! A good blow dry and style, regular dye jobs, and no-gloss lipstick and matte eyeshadow round it all out.
But the wrinkles ... arghhhhhhh, the wrinkles! Those teeny tiny crows feet that first made an appearance in my mid thirties have deepened by the year. The hollows under my eyes seem much more pronounced than they did just a year ago. Furrows have started to appear on my brow this year. And apparently I've developed marionette lines. The saddest part is that these grooves and dips and sags and furrows all shine at their brightest when I smile or laugh. The truer the laugh, the deeper the crease. As if all brightness must be leeched from the folds of my skin if a smile is to truly reach my eyes.
And I'm thinking that I'll be damned before I'll ever let wrinkles stop me from having a good laugh. At 42 almost 43 I need to laugh more than ever. It's keeping my insides young ... laughing can apparently help ease digestion and stress (though you don't want to relax so much that you toot every time you laugh ... that's a true sign you're getting older), and every once in a while a good laugh lets me revisit age 12. But I don't like the wrinkles.
Creams and moisturizers just don't serve to mask anymore. And while eight glasses of water a day are a good reminder that my bladder control isn't quite what it used to be, I'm not quite achieving that hydrated glow that comes so naturally with youth.
So I turn to the alternatives. I Google facelifts in the ME (interesting find ... Iran is the rhinoplasty capital of the world). Just not gonna work for me. Far too invasive ... I don't like the thought of detaching skin from bone. Plus I have fears of emerging looking like the cat lady or ending up with a permanently arched brow and perpetually stunned gaze.
I Google "wrinkle removal". This brings up millions of hits. There are laser treatments, vitamin injections, injectable fillers, resurfacing (that sounds scarily architectural) and all manner of chemical fountains of youth. Too many; it's dizzying for an old brain. Pros and cons for each, each positive review negated by a horrifying experience of intensified and accelerated facial warping and wrinkling. For every Gwyneth Paltrow there is a Priscilla Presley.
It's all too overwhelming. There is way too much out there, and nothing is a sure shot. It's a gamble, and one whose results you will have to gaze upon for the rest of your life, win or lose. Butt implants would be much simpler; there is no reason for me to ever look at my tush again until the day I die if I so choose. But my face looks back at me in the mirror every single day. It might be a little wrinklier right now, but all in all it's not a horrible face. I can still quite easily stand the sight of myself.
It's hard to chance losing that. So I'm considering going into therapy to learn to embrace my wrinkles as a part of who I am and what I've become over 43 years. To learn how to love my laugh lines and see them represented as a channel for years of laughter past. To learn how to appreciate the motherly concern that has etched its line so delicately across my brow.
For tonight I'm satisfied with downloading the "Hourface" app. It's a photo app that ages you as you watch. The upside is I can turn it upside down and it does the reverse - erasing the lines, smoothing the complexion, filling out the hollows. I'm smiling as I try it out ... and I am reminded that this is likely and unfortunately contributing to even deeper laugh lines.
And I realize that, if I'm honest, I'm gonna need a lot of therapy. Yeah, I'd still really like a wrinkle-free me.