Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A woman of a certain age.

I am 30.

Later this year, a birthday will occur that places me in the bracket of a woman "in her thirties."

Thirty is supposed to be terrifying. It's supposed to be old.
I remember when my mother turned 30, and her admonishment to answer "29" if anyone asked her age.
It was a big deal.
So I prepared myself mentally for turning that dreaded age, as well as anyone can, and planned an elaborate holiday to NYC to soften the blow.
But there was no blow.
30 felt a lot to me like 29, which felt a lot like 28 come to think of it, which felt not unlike 27.
Thirty turned out to not be a very big deal after all.

Except I am married to a man who is 5 years older than me, but looks 10 years younger than me. His hair is graying but he has a boyish face, a little imp of a grin. If he's anything like his father (and to my eyes, he's practically a carbon copy), he will continue to be fit and cute and vital for a long, long time and the gray at this temples just makes him look sexier. Damn.
Which presents me with an odd dilemma - even if I age gracefully and look good for my age, I'll still look older than him.
I do not particularly relish this suffering by comparison.
And apparently, this suffering has already begun.

Last weekend, a meeting of the sisters at my mother's house took place, and my sisters teased my husband about looking barely beyond the age of majority, and then turned to me and said that I looked "young at heart."


To my ears, that was was worse than "You look older than he does" or "You look 30" or even "You look 50." Young at heart is for an octogenarian who still wears a jaunty hat or likes a nip of whiskey. You can only be young at heart when you're old in body. And 30 may be no spring chicken, but I hardly think it qualifies as old.

A note about my sisters: my sisters, all 3 of them, are my younger sisters. Curses. It is literally a woman's worst nightmare to be the oldest of four girls. All of my life I will be pictured with and surrounded by younger women. As if standing beside my handsome husband is not punishment enough, I also have to spend my life being compared to women who look vaguely like me, only younger. Not awesome.

Until that moment, I didn't really take issue with how I looked. I like what I see in the mirror most days. Maybe I look 30, but what's wrong with that? I am older (and fatter) but I am also happier, with better shoes and a more expensive haircut.

Young at heart.

Okay, I admit it. I cried.

I tried to laugh it off. If you have my sisters, you grow a tough skin. All my life they have taunted my big lips, my "mama" sized boobs, even the shape of my bellybutton. But with this one, they have struck a chord.

It doesn't bother me a whit to look whatever age I am - 30, 40, 50, 60, whatever. The only thing that makes me cringe is thinking that somewhere along the line my husband will start to look like my little brother, or worse, my son. My worst fear is to look like we do not belong together.

There is no diet, no miracle makeup foundation that can help me with this. Demi Moore started going bananas with the plastic surgery and the anorexia the minute she married a younger man, and then it literally drove her crazy. Is a mental breakdown in my future too? Kate Winslet is vocal about being against plastic surgery, but at the ripe old age of 36, she's out there schilling anti-wrinkle creams. If she's worried, then I should going fucking ballistic! And here I am making do with $10 moisturizer like an idiot, meanwhile the city miles are wracking up on my face and I'm not filling them in with anything!

Apparently I've already started the descent. I'm already looking aged, says my sister, who will be as old as I am in just four years (which is small comfort, since she will never catch up, I will always be that much older, look that much worse) and who once offered the worst insult she could possible dredge up after someone gave her a makeover she didn't like - "I look like a 30 year old."

Well, 30 is coming.
It happens to all of us.
It happened to me.
And it keeps happening. I'm older now than when I started this post. I may look worse, but I feel better.
And if in 20 years I'm playing tonsil hockey with my super hot son, then so be it.