I remember the day I turned 29.
It was 16 years ago – yikes, that’s hard to believe.
But the day I turned 29, I took the day off from work.
I worked out twice that day, hoping to fight off the effects of gravity and the aging process.
I didn’t even eat any birthday cake, something I never skipped.
It was my last year in my twenties.
I felt ancient, as if my youth and life were over.
I was about to enter a new decade, my thirties.
Little did I know those years would fly by in the blink of an eye.
I went through a divorce, got remarried, had a baby, moved a couple of times, and went through about 4 different career changes.
No wonder by the time I hit my 40’s I was exhausted.
My spunk and sass seemed to have been replaced with, “Eh, it’s not worth the energy fighting over.”
Blasphemous talk for one who is a quarter Irish.
“Cole, when I was younger, I would have….”
I recount tales of my younger hot-tempered responses and how I stood up fiercely for myself and for others.
Now, I just hope to avoid any disagreements, so I don’t have to worry about it for days on end.
The aging process has not only affected my emotional response but my physical as well.
Remember when Dolly Parton declared, “Time’s marching on, and eventually you realize, it’s marching across your face?”
Yeah, well, Truvy got that one right.
She just left out the battlefield extended in all directions.
The other day in the bathroom, I saw not one, not two, but four grey hairs sticking up from the midst of a field of black, dark brown, and whatever other colors are mixed in there.
These had popped up overnight.
The greys could and would be covered with some liberal painting of color at my next appointment.
An easy fix, I told myself.
But some of the other things were not so easy.
For one thing, the few pounds I would gain from too much cheesecake no longer come off as quickly as they previously did.
Just five short years ago, I could just skip my afternoon bag of M&M’s and drop whatever weight I had gained.
Now, I am still struggling to lose the weight I gained three years ago.
“Once you are over 40, you will find it’s not so easy to lose that weight,” Mama informed me one day.
I told her I was already learning that.
“So, you may want to lay off the cheesecake. And the candy. I know you think they are their own food group.”
I groaned my disapproval of her advice.
“Your body is going through some changes now that you may not like and may be embarrassing, so you need to pay attention to what you eat and do.”
I was in my mid-40’s and finally, my Mama was giving me the talk about my changing body.
And as much as I hate to admit it, she was right.
“I have cut out everything that tastes good and you want to know how much I have lost?” I asked one day.
“How much?” a friend asked.
“I gained 2 pounds. Two pounds! And I think I pulled something trying to squeeze into my imitation Spanx.”
“Honey, how old are you now…?”
No response was necessary.
To add insult to injury, as if eating kale and gaining weight with multiple greys dotting my hairline were not enough, I had something else happen.
As a teenager, I somehow dodged a bullet and had clear skin.
Maybe Mother Nature thought I had enough going against me and told pimples to find another canvas to land.
But here I was, trying to figure out which cream, gel or serum to apply first: wrinkle cream, lifting cream, brightening gel, or acne treatment. And vitamin C treatment. Did you know you face needs vitamins, too? It does.
“Maybe you put too much gunk on your face? Could that be it?” Lamar asked, watching me slather various things on my face one morning.
“Given the fact that middle aged women seem to blame everything on our hormones, that’s mighty brave talk for a skinny man to use,” I warned.
He got the hint and went into hiding until later that day.
But the real kicker was even more painful than the esthetic issues I was experiencing.
“It’s going to rain today,” I announced one morning.
“Weatherman on TV said it is going to be clear,” Lamar said over his coffee.
“I don’t care what they said, it’s going to rain; maybe snow.”
“What makes you think that?” Lamar asked.
“The way my neck is hurting, it is going to do something. Trust me. I may not have Doppler, but I have a neck that lets me know.”
“Good lord, you are not old enough to start sounding like Granny.”
Around 3 p.m. that afternoon, it started sleeting.
“Told you,” I said. “My neck knows.”
This getting older thing is not for the faint of heart.
But, it sure beats the alternative.