I went to get my eyes checked the other day because I was having a hard time reading small print while I had my regular distance glasses on. My optometrist smiled and nodded and said, yes, this is normal with people your age. So in translation, what he was really saying was this: Guess what, chickie? You need bifocals. Or readers. Or progressive lenses.
Dear God, I have hit middle age.
Aside from the vanity issue, the reality of the situation freaks me out. The changes to my life and body have been gradual, so subtle that I barely noticed the grinning beast sneaking up on me. It's been little things, quiet things, practically unnoticed until the dreaded B word entered my lexicon. Preferring a Saturday night at home reading with music playing gently in the background. Not wanting to drink more than two glasses of wine in a sitting. The slight spreading around my middle. A sudden desire to stop coloring my hair, just to see what color exactly I am.* Less makeup, more sunscreen, and oodles of Crème de la Mer. Cholesterol checks and mammograms and inside jokes about hot flashes and colonoscopies.
When my new reading glasses arrived yesterday, I put them on and modeled them for my husband, who raised an eyebrow and said I looked a bit like Carrie Donovan. Not exactly the response I was looking for. Alas.
I can trace this now obviously cataclysmic change back to a single moment, a few years ago, when a friend's husband passed away. Her loss hit me in a way I coudn't have predicted, or even understood. It brought about a sudden recognition of my own mortality, and that of those I love, the first I've ever really felt. That led to a surprisingly deep depression, one of which I came out of with a new outlook on life. I wanted to be more authentic. To be true to myself, instead of what people expected of me. To focus on what matters to the internal me rather than worrying about buffing and polishing the surface.
And I changed accordingly. And for the better, I believe. I do yoga now. I meditate. I feel a new creative freedom that I'd never felt before. I don't concern myself with what people think about me. I am infinitely more empathetic. I appreciate the things I have more, and feel losses more keenly.
I guess I shouldn't say I'm growing old. I am simply growing up.
*9 months in, it's dark blond with copious natural highlights. Rather pretty, actually.