A long time around 1958 … Wait, I'll start again. Very long ago, I thought that everyone over the age of 18 looked the same: old. Do you remember to think about it? Adults, whether in late teens or late 50's, fell in the same category. They were not of my kind.
More recently, I thought about people in the late 60's. They, and those who managed to hang even further, were not my people. And now, suddenly (I do not understand how it happened), I've discovered that I'm one of them, and I've crossed while I was busy living my life, on the other side.
Here it is surprising: Despite the revelation and the losses that accompany aging – bye, strong legs, bright hair, smooth skin, brain cells, not to mention pets, parents and friends – I'm still so happy to be here.
About a year ago I wrote a story in the local newspaper (The New York Times) about the delightful but somewhat confusing insight that my neighbor in the neighborhood, in whose penthouse apartment I had spectacular views, shared a number of friends with me. We are in the same age: not young, but not dead either. So when I met her, the fact that I often saw her and her husband laughing at the house in different stages of clothing became a problem among us that we had to deal with. The paper assigned an illustrator to the story – a young man whom I later discovered – which drew us as he imagined that our age would look. The person meant to be me: white-haired, a little soft around the edges, something that can easily be interpreted as a housekeeper. For (paper off) the post: I'm toned, the blonde, and if you read the story, you would know at home I often go around topless.
But the young man is forgiven for his assumptions. Even though I, a 68-year-old woman, think of a 68-year-old woman, I think of a white-haired, lumpy grandmother type.
I guess that's one of the reasons I'm happy when I see myself in the mirror. When the reality is less hard in any way than expected, the result is usually a good result. But there is another reason I do not care to see my reflection, even when I fully appreciate the effects of six decades on my face.
Do you have a mirror nearby? Take a look at yourself. I want you to be aware of what you think when you look into the glass. Most likely you follow another presence, one who has looked over your shoulder quite because you were aware that the face in the mirror was yours. It's your critical eye, the one who judges what you look and suggests you are doing well – or often not so well – to meet your beauty goals. To your critical eye, your face is an object, one to be judged, manipulated and adorned to please other people. That's why, for example, it's the amazing bead of makeup: We use it to accentuate the features (dark lashes, spooled cheeks, ruby lips) that make us desirable. We use that eye in a way to fix our desired appearance. And thus we indicate ourselves.
But what happens when we looked in the mirror did we not see an object but a person how we see the people we love? Here's what I mean: close your eyes. Now consider your best friend's face. You probably got a picture of a face along with lots of feelings about the person who belongs to it. Perhaps you thought about the last time you were shopping at Sephora together or watching Michelle Wolf's stand-up and feeling the happiness that comes from deep comradeship and shared laughter.