Photo: A self-portrait.
I caught a glimpse of myself in the window last night and thought, I am the exact definition of the phrase "letting yourself go". It amazes me how effortless it is, how comforting. Pajamas and chipped nail polish have replaced the heels and makeup I once wore; my adorable clothes are all gathering dust in my unused closet, and the pride I took in keeping up appearances for the Esq (or rather, keeping up with the image of keeping up with appearances) has fallen by the wayside. At this rate, I will end up like my downstairs neighbor (the rude one), who looks and acts 67, but who I suspect is just an old-looking 52. I look back on photos from when the Esq and I first started dating, and think--who the hell is that? Is that eyeshadow? Am I wearing... ohmygod, am I wearing a bra?! Goddamnit, I used to be so much cuter. At least I used to care. Even if it was in an unusual way, or exotic, or odd, I could still rock it. Now I'm thinking about buying a pair of those brightly-colored whiffle ball shoes for the mentally retarded (yes, I know Crocs are comfortable and not for the retarded, but have you seen them?); that's how I know I'm going downhill. I would never have been caught dead in a pair of those shoes, but now I'm thinking, who the hell cares? What are feet, anyways? Just two brown, lumpy hooves that reluctantly schlep me around town. They don't care what they're wearing, they just want to quit moving and take a nap. I can't even be bothered to put on jeans anymore--I feel dangerously close to being someone who goes to the grocery store in their bathrobe. I just don't have the stamina for 3-inch heels anymore, or the motivation for liquid eyeliner--I even tried giving myself a makeover the other night, but ended up passing out from the effort.
I wonder how long my motto of 'doing the minimal amount of work for the maximum amount of value' is going to last. I think maybe it just ended. I don't have a lot of good years left--I certainly don't think I'm on death's doorstep, but I'm also closer to menopause than ever before. I mean, after 21, all of the momentous birthdays are the ones you're trying to avoid (and no, 25 doesn't count, because caring about your car insurance rates is something a young person just wouldn't do). I remember being 15, and thinking, 'I can't wait until I'm 30--older, mature, thin-rich-and-famous, retired...." Because thirty years old was reeeally fucking ancient. I thought I might be a sought-after Wise Woman, or that maybe the human race, as a whole, would come together and give me a Lifetime Achievement Award for surviving so long. Plus I figured, 15 years would be the right amount of time to seek out all of my dreams (being a musician, an author, an artist, a psychiatrist, a parent, a homeowner, and a contestant on MTV's The Real World--hey, I was 15, at least I had goals), turn them into realities, and turn THAT into royalties. Everything I did, in my mind, was world-renowned or hadn't been done; I was a rebel, a leader, a visionary. Now I'm approaching age 32--the 'really fucking ancient age of 30' has come and gone--and I'm remembering my mom and her friends, or the older friends I've worked with, complaining about how it's harder to lose weight as you get older, or sagging skin, or mustaches; all true for me, all terribly mortifying. You never think it's going to be you; and then you wake up one morning, get up to pee, glance in the mirror on the way out of the bathroom, and see it: the true beginnings of a handlebar mustache. More like 5 o'clock shadow and less like Snidely Whiplash, but still--it's there, ruining your life for all to see. And it becomes a do-or-die moment. Do I ignore it, like I have my weight, my diet, my on-again/off-again relationship with smoking, my insomnia, or the sage advice of real medical professionals? Or do I use it as a catalyst for change, something to lead me out of the dark and into the light?
I think I'll go with the latter; it's really the better message. That is why I have named my mustache: The Hairy Beacon of Hope.