I turned 59 a few days ago. How the hell did that creep up on me so fast? In my mind I’m still about 43, feel 43, and have fooled myself for a long time into thinking that I looked about 43.
It’s funny how if I stop and think about it, I realize that the catcalls quit coming from rolled down car windows quite a while ago, and heads haven’t been turning when I walk in a restaurant, and I no longer get that flirty smile from the guy in line at the grocery store. And that’s all ok; it’s just that when this shift takes place, which happens ever so slowly, you wake one day to realize that you’ve crossed a line, gone to the other side, or something like that.
I mean, it’s a bit disturbing when you’re driving your car and another car speeds up to catch up along side of you, he looks over and then quickly turns away. It’s almost as if he just got scared to death, like he just saw the ugliest human alive. What he saw from the back was long ash blondish hair, but what he saw as he caught up, was a woman old enough to be his mother or more likely, his grandmother! Poor kid.
I’d always planned on growing old gracefully. Not sure what that really means, but to me it meant to accept it, own it, be it, and not deny all the changes that come with it. I would live with whatever time handed to me ~ sagging breasts, the jowls, the wrinkling skin, the graying hair and maybe, even maybe, I would start wearing elastic waistbands and comfort shoes. Ok, wait, I’m not going to go that far. My cowboy boots are staying.
Even as a teen, I knew, and I told everyone, “Someday I will be an old woman with a long gray braid.” You see, I’ve been having my medium brown hair highlighted for the past 30 years. So many years in fact, that the highlights became the actual color. And for almost as long as I remember, I’ve been and believed I was a blonde and honestly wouldn’t have known what my true hair color was if you’d asked me. I highlighted my hair as religiously as I brushed my teeth. It was just part of the maintenance. Coloring my hair was just something I was never ready to give up.
But when the gray became too agressive, I figured it was time to practice what I preach. To own it. To not be ashamed or made by society to feel that having gray hair is the same as a death sentence, that I have to look younger than I am, that having gray hair means I’m letting myself go, or I’ve given up. I mean, society does sweep us under the rug when we get older, and with a really big push broom, I might add, so I don’t blame the masses for trying to stay in the game. To get or keep a job. To get or keep a lover. It’s not so easy anymore. But I'm willing to try.
I want to attempt this gray thing. I want to see what I truly look like and see if mother nature knows best. To see if I will still like myself sans the whistles, catcalls and maybe even job offers. I read that going gray was one of the most courageous acts you can commit on your way to claiming your authentic self. Well, ready or not authentic self, here I come.