Tuesday, November 9, 2010

About Face

I sat for a long time this morning, considering the face in the mirror, surveying the damage like a landlord deciding whether or not to return the security deposit. When did all these spots get here? Brown and red, small and not so small. And lines. Long ones between the brows from years of reading with expression, small ones framing the lips from hours of shushing noisy children. Above the face, errant grays, below it, gathering jowls. I see my mother. Oh Sweet Jesus, right there, on the left cheek, my Grandmother.

Happy birthday?

Some people are gracious about aging, mature, grown up. They see their wrinkles as the reward of years of laughter and love. Their spots and splotches are badges of honor from time well spent.

I'm not one of those people. I just see middle-age. And I liked youth better.

I am 46 today. I can almost feel myself cresting the peak, beginning the steady descent. Let's just hope Frank Sinatra was right—the best is yet to come.

As I scrutinize this tired face, my son's voice intrudes on my self-pity. He is laughing and chattering like only children do. Beyond him, the familiar sounds of my husband, fixing lunches and pouring egg nog into my coffee, just the way I like it.

I'd trade this old face for a young one in a second. But not if it meant returning to a life before them. I may even take a new wrinkle or two, if that's what it took to keep them.

Happy birthday indeed.