Aging Happens

When it comes to outward appearance, I’m pretty low maintenance. I’ve never had my eyebrows done (I don’t even know what that means). I don’t know how to apply eye-shadow. Anything requiring wax on my body terrifies me to the core. I don’t even wear makeup most days.

An actual picture of all my cosmetics in a super fancy container. 
Nobody told me, though, that when I turned 30, I’d be entering a new era of face maintenance. Perhaps the most annoying body change I’ve seen in my thirties has been a development of dry flaky skin on my face that makes me feel like a snake awkwardly shedding its skin. Last week, after my seventh application of Vitamin E oil on the pesky unscathed dry patches, I remembered hearing about a face scrubbing device with a catchy name. The device was only $10 at Sephora and was cleverly named Cleaning Me Softly...a play on the classic Fugees song, “Killing Me Softly.”

We don’t have a Sephora where I live, but lucky for me, we were heading to a town with a Sephora that weekend so I could run a half-marathon. I had only walked through a Sephora once before a few years earlier. Honestly, I just hung on the outskirts examining the rhetoric of the advertisements on the wall while I waited for my friends to buy an assortment of makeup brushes.

So, before we returned home from our weekend away, I dragged my family to the mall. I left my husband and kids in the car promising to be swift. Malls always make me a little nervous; they’re filled with people, things, loud noises, and smells. They take me back to my middle school days when I begged my parents to drop me off at the mall so I could eat soft pretzels and flirt (unsuccessfully) with boys way too old for me at the Sunglass Hut.

Despite an impending headache from sensory overload, I was confident when I opened the big double doors to the mall containing Sephora. As I neared the store, nestled in the middle of a JC Penney, I grew more and more self-conscious. The store was packed and teeming with people fondling makeup brushes; I overheard a woman asking about blotting papers. What the f are blotting papers?! I wondered silently.  Men and women sleekly clothed in black, faces neatly made up wove in and out of the crowd asking people if they needed help and offering suggestions. My introverted self wanted to cut and run, but I wanted that damn face scrubber.

Bare-faced and self-conscious, I remained on the perimeter of the store. My eyes furiously scanned the shelves as if I were on some sort of game show where time was of the essence. My heart raced. Cleansing Me Softly…$10...I muttered over and over again as if saying the product name and price would help me find it.

“Can I help you?” chimed a voice behind me.

I spun around quickly, feeling caught--as if I had shoved my pockets full of lipsticks.

“No.” I said sharply, hurrying to the other side of the store to get away from the employee.

The employee side-eyed me and rolled his eyes. I realized my tone must’ve sounded rude and thought about apologizing, but then I figured he had seen my bare face and realized I was clueless and hopeless.

I must’ve walked around the perimeter of that store six times before I ran out seven minutes later--empty handed.

“Did you get what you needed?” my husband asked gesturing to my empty hands.

“No. I froze. There were too many people and too many foreign objects.”

He laughed and grabbed my hand to give it a squeeze, “You’re funny. I love you.”

“Well, I hope my charm overshadows my snake face,” I muttered gesturing to a dry patch.

My husband laughed again, “I didn’t even notice. But if you feel uncomfortable, just buy one of those things online. No big deal.”

He kept driving while I begrudgingly searched for “face brushes” on Amazon.

I eventually found a reasonably priced face exfoliator that gently scrubs off my old lady skin and leaves me with a soft, non-snake face, but that’s not the moral of the story here. The point is that no amount of expensive face creams or exfoliating devices will prolong aging; it happens just as sure as the sun rises in the west each morning.

I’m not the same dewy brunette my husband met 12 years ago. I’m a graying thirty year-old who exfoliates her face twice a day. I’m softer around the mid-section, and I have some weird, visible blue veins on my right calf. I have permanent red marks on the bridge of my nose from wearing glasses for 22 years. I now talk about things like retirement, and I spend actual free time making phone calls to my state senators. Instead of going to the bars on the weekends, I hunker down at home with store-bought beer (way more economical). My life is nothing short of dull because aging and doing daily life is simply not glamorous. With aging, though, comes a different sort of self-assuredness that transcends physical appearance. Little things like burning dinner don’t have as much weight as they once did when I was newly married and trying desperately to make my husband’s favorite meal. Conversely, ordinary moments like a quiet morning with a cup of coffee and my own thoughts feel bigger and more precious than they ever have before. Because I have more experience than I did when I was 20, I now can see the bigger picture of life, which makes setbacks easier to deal with. At 30, I am surrounded with some of the best people--my friendships are void of drama because ain’t nobody got time for that in their thirties. While I don’t always embrace the physical aspects of aging, I wouldn’t trade the comfort of my thirties. I’ll gladly take a little dry skin in place of the hustle of my twenties.


Susanne Bloomfield said...

Ahhhh, to be thirty again! Loved your post!

Verna Haberman said...

Wait till your 50 girl. The BEST is yet to come.
I know who I am, what I want and I really don't care what the rest of you think of me.
Just wish I had your energy. Always a trade off. Embrace each new chapter.