Welp. Yesterday was my birthday. Again. *sigh*
The years seem to be going faster, don't they?
I don't know how that works, but let me assure you; it's a thing. As you age, time passes more quickly, gravity actually gets heavier, and your bladder shrinks to the size of a peanut. Before you know it, you wake up one morning and you're thirty-effing-seven, droopy all over, and living your whole life on the brink of wetting yourself. I'm sorry. That's just how it is. There's nothing you can do about it.... unless you have lots and lots of money... Ok. So there's nothing I can do about it.
Oh! And - as if being wrinkly, damp, and nearly dead isn't insulting enough - people keep calling me “Ma'am”. What the hell, you guys?! Ma'am??? Psssshhh! How rude is that?! They might as well be calling me “you old bag". “Thank you for shopping at Safeway, you old bag!” When the Starbucks barista says “Here you go, Ma'am”, she's lucky I don't throw my steaming latte right in her wrinkle-free face. I just cannot abide by being told so politely that I'm old and haggard.
So I have a furrowed brow and flesh like an old paper sack. So what?! This face, this hot mess, this puckered mug - this is a freaking badge of honor.
My face tells the story of an incredible life. It's like a diary, a journal I've kept since the day I was born. My face can tell you everything about me...but you'll have to read between the lines.
If you can read between the lines, you'll see me squinting into the sun. This is what eyes look like after they've watched a ball of fire rise over the Caribbean and set over the Pacific, burn the morning mist off the Grand Canyon and slink off to hide behind the Sierras. I've stood in the shadow of pine trees and palm trees and giant oaks, dripping with moss, while the rays of the sun etched these lines around my eyes, themselves like little sunbursts, to remind me of the places I've been. These wrinkles are a road map, plain and simple, to a world that has moved me and shaped me.
Read between the lines and you'll practically hear the sound of laughter. In the lines around my lips you'll see a gazillion words have slipped by, good ones and bad ones and all the ones in between. The upturned corners of my mouth tell their own tales, in Spanish, while whispered prayers and belted-out love songs, mercy and judgement, truth and lies, condemnation and grace, all weave into the fabric of my face. It's all there - plus a divot in my bottom lip, chewed away by years of worry. These are the deep creases and soft folds of a mouth that speaks its mind, tells stories, shares from the heart, and pouts mightily when it doesn't get its way. But around these parts, the smile line reigns supreme, laughter is king, funny trumps all – so says the valley that separates my cheek from my nose. This mouth betrays my 37 years. It looks 40. I just know it.
If you read between the lines, you'll find this heavily furrowed brow is the mark of a marriage fought and died for. It's the deepest line on my face, for good reason; To die to yourself is the hardest and greatest of life's lessons – and selfishness deserves a gravestone. I carry mine right between my eyes. It's not a wrinkle, it's a scar, a reminder of my own woundedness. And it makes me look pissed, but I'm not. When people ask me what's wrong (And they do. All the time.), I want to say, “Nothing. This is just what happens when your internal battle leaks onto your face.”
If you'll read between the lines, you'll see how these rolling waves across my forehead are the flagship of motherhood; each wavy line dug in by the surprises brought by maternity. “How did you pee that far?” “Who poured honey on the dog?” “Why is the toaster in the dryer?” I know it's not ok to scream “WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?!?!” twenty times a day, so my creased and wrinkled forehead says it for me. This raised eyebrow conveys a myriad of emotions, all useful in propelling boys toward manhood. I'm confident that of all the good reasons I've given them, this cocked brow will surely be the thing that sends my kids to therapy. ...Yes. It's that good.
If you read between the lines, you'll see I'm 37.
Older than Jesus.
And I'm okay with it.
This shrunken face, and tiny bladder, and droopy everything are just part of life. This is my body, broken for... just kidding. But when I think about what it would take to make it to 37 wrinkle free, I can see that I would have forsaken all of the things that have made my life great.
So here's to another year, well lived under the sun! Here's to the trials that shuffle our brows and scrunch up our noses! Here's to the joys that get us grinning from ear to ear and laughing til our cheeks hurts! Here's to life! And here's to owning our old and haggard faces!!!
Happy Birthday to me. I'm old-ish and I'm pretty much cool with it.
But. If you call me “Ma'am”, I might offer you three fingers and ask you to read between the lines.
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How old are you? What can your lines tell us?