My birthday is in less than 48 hours & as it never seems to deviate, I am woefully sad. I look in the mirror and I just don’t recognize these seemingly sudden changes in my face, my neck, the hollowness. The furrows are deeper, my skin feels thinner.
I don’t know what to do with this face. I don’t know what to say to it, other than I’m sorry. I’m here for you. Tell me what to do.
This number is staggering, 47. I have repeated it so many times today, it doesn’t even sound like a word anymore, forty-seven, forty-seven, forty-seven. I can no longer hedge a “I’m 40-ish”, I can barely say I’m in my 40s.
When I hear on the news that a woman was “forty-seven” I think, oh she was older, middle-aged, past children, past marriage even, on her second husband, her last husband, nearing the end of her career. She was done for, anyway.
It’s morose, I know. I am a fatalist by genetics, coming from a centuries worth of hand-ringing women, deep gullies between their brows, tragic sorrows behind their perfectly manicured smiles, that have repeated, “I’m good,” thank you. “I am fine,” so many times it’s a deeply etched mantra not even they could pin-point if they had the will to try.
Yet, I am also hopeful–I say defensively. How else would I go on, if I wasn’t?
It’s just that there are so many things I think I want, things that I believe would make me happier: a lover, a husband– a bigger garden, a house, another dog, better clothes, more money, a vacation for two, dinner parties for intimate friends. Something!
I never wanted children. Never. And that shocks people, especially women, tremendously, but it’s true. I had what I thought was my true love once and he had proposed in a very offhand way that I was too enraptured with to see. I saw us marrying on the beach, a small ceremony. I thought I could love this man forever and I would have his child, because that was what love created. But he left. He changed his mind and left. And I never let myself that close to anyone again.
Oh, there were lovers and hopeful keepers, I suppose, but never quite the right one. I saw to that myself.
Now, seventeen years later I am forty-seven and I wonder if there is anyone left for me, anyone who will look at me that way, who could know me, laugh with me just that way. Someone, I could adore and conspire with as much we once did. I often think it is just too late.
I also know that this mantra is only true if I hold onto it–and I have like fishing twine wrapped tightly around my hand over and over. It’s cut off my circulation & bled me to the bone, but I sometimes want to believe I can still unravel it, mend it, if there’s still time.