Millennium Clock, National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh
I see lines and dots. My face and body are sprinkled with freckles and bumps and moles and little spots, red and brown, with new ones popping up all the time. I see scattered patches of rough skin where innumerable sunburns killed its ability to heal itself gracefully. The surface of my face and body is not so smooth as it once was, with lines and little ripples appearing unexpectedly and with increasing regularity. My lips are a little less full than they were before, and there’s thickening around my face and body in different places than where the baby fat used to be, and of a different texture.
There’s a country song I love with a line that goes ‘I look in the mirror in total surprise, at the hair on my shoulders, the age in my eyes’. This doesn’t all apply to me. I keep my hair bobbed and it looks much the same as it always has: it’s still brown, and if there’s any silver, it’s in fine threads hidden among the darker ones, and doesn’t show. My eyes are still wide and wonder right back at me when I look at myself in the mirror, though there’s much more crinkliness around them than before. When I first noticed the signs of aging that have appeared so far, I was startled, disconcerted, and upset. I’m not nearly as immune to vanity as I’d like. But now, the process has become a familiar one and while not exactly welcome, I’m reconciled to it, at least for the moment. Though some would still call me young, I’m clearly, fully a woman, though there’s much more than a bit of girlishness left in my personality. I still have lots of energy and have the great fortune to enjoy good health, for which I’m very grateful.
Like a clock, these bodily lines and dots are accompanied by a tick-tock, tick-tock. For some, the lateness of the hour they reveal tells them it’s time to get married or have a first baby if they haven’t yet, or it’s time to make their first appointment with an aesthetician or cosmetic dermatologist. For others, like me, they say ‘It’s time to pursue those dreams yet unrealized, get cracking on those projects, accomplish more, go out and see more of that great big world, girl-no-longer-a-girl! Hurry up!’
Okay, okay! I’m up, I’m up! Time to get a move on.
Thanks, lines and dots. You really do come in handy sometimes, by driving me to do so many things and go so many places I’ll always be glad of. But do you really have to be so unrelenting?
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