Friday, July 23, 2010

Portrait of the Artist as a (Apparently Not Even Close) Young Woman

I am generally of the belief that this is as young as I will ever be so shut the eff up furrow between my brows and stop squinting. (Too many times I have thought I was too old to wear something/try something/do something only to look back years later and marvel at how young I was at the time.)

Time. (Did I ever tell you that I can play The Time on the piano, courtesy of lessons circa 198something?) Of course this mind set is best served to the young and not, say Sartre who said that things are entirely what they appear to be and behind them there is nothing. Dead philosophers claiming we are spirits clad in veils, and that you cannot ever unscramble an egg.
Wha--? I mean, this is all well and good, not to mention true. Someday I will look back at this post and laugh at my silly self, she of the fine lines who only had to get up once during the night to pee. But not today. No, today I am experiencing a convergence of crap: my 20 year high school reunion this weekend, my 38th birthday next month and then this latest news that women are at the peak of beauty at 31. 31! Which puts me, of course, on the south end of that slippery slope slide into une femme d'un certain age. Jolie laide, the French do have the best expressions for prismatic beauty. (Mon dieu, I just hope I am never referred to as a handsome woman.)

I don't think you are supposed to talk about such things really, beauty, like money, spoken quietly behind the powder room door. How pretty am I? Not the prettiest nor the ugliest, not the oldest or the estiest. But sometimes I yawn while sitting in my car at red lights and notice that the person in the car next to me is looking. Then the light changes and the stranger zooms off, forever knowing me only as a woman who looks like this:
But wait! I want to say. That's not me! But it is, of course, me: big pores and crepey eyelids. For all I know I might get that thin spittle thread stretching from my top to my bottom teeth and strangers look away, disgusted.

When I was little I would wonder when I would be my prettiest. This was before I knew the lyrics to Que Sera, Sera, and so I would question if it would be when I was 20, 25, though 30 always seemed too old. I forgot that I used to think about that, and now I wonder--when was it, that single frame moment when I was my most beautiful? Because they say it already happened.

Who was I at 31 that I missed the supposed prime of my beauty? A girl who didn't feel comfortable referring to herself as a woman? A girl who very likely felt too old to be beautiful and too young to know better?Well, apparently I was a girl who lightened her hair waaay too much, because here I am in Vega$, luck be a 31 year old lady waiting for cherry! cherry! cherry! Sinking her hopes into something over which she has no control in a room with no clocks.

Dead philosophers say that with age comes wisdom, or maybe it's dead humorists who say that. Who am I now? A girl who still feels funny referring to herself as a woman, 7 years past her prime, a girl of an uncertain age caught between harshly-lit reflections in store front windows and the feeling inside that what I was waiting for and what they are writing about--that it is all happening right now.

16 comments:

jennifer said...

i'm 10 days from 40 and I peaked at 25. no doubt about it. what gives? C'est injuste que!

sherri said...

great post. you have great eyelids, not creepy at all. if it makes you feel any better I am TEN years past my prime.

A Perfect Gray said...

that was a fantastic piece, babe. it needs to be published somewhere. you need serious dough for stuff like that...

Jules said...

Mine is next weekend. I'm freaking out a bit about it. I can't believe I'm as old as I am, but at the same time I know I will look back and wonder why I thought I was old.

Michelle M in KY said...

OH SUSANNAH,
What a fabulous post. I, too am approaching a birthday...19 days away from 39 and I have absolutely no idea how that happened. Time is strange. I used to think that it just drug on and on. Now, it feels like it is traveling at warp speed. I look at my kids and think how is it that you are now little people, no longer babies. (Weep a little here) I don't think I have ever referred to myself as a woman because inside my mind I am still a girl.

the girL said...

funny because i am living my last few days of 31 right now and i'm far from feeling my most beautiful... maybe i'll try to think differently for the next week. thank you!
XOXO

Still Life With Coffee said...

I feel exactly this way. I hate how I shudder at my own getting-older, getting-wrinkly face when I catch a non-posed glimpse of myself in the mirror. You say it so beautifully.

Richie Designs said...

I have a hard time referring to myself as a woman too.

I think it's a lie to say that women peek at 31. I've been noticing lately how lovely women look into their 50's + yes, they have wrinkles and things don't look the same but the life and the wisdom I think speaks through the crinkles.

I mean come on Lauren Hutton? pshhhst the best.

plus? I've met you in person you are as cute as a bugs ear.

hej said...

Last night, I came by as you were watering your garden after work and Zoey was spilling a platic, pink can of water on her feet after showing me where the dead bird was that was beginning to smell behind the palm tree. Then, you heated the dinner that I brought that Zoey never eats and tried to spit it on the floor and almost had a "time out." Then, we retired to the living room. On our backs, our knees up and bent we gave Zoey rides as if she was flying like a bird, a laughing, giggling four year old bird.

Last night, you were the prettiest you ever were.

Maybe, tomorrow, you'll be even prettier.

Love,

Dad

Love

Rosalie said...

Your dad made me cry.
XO
Ro

Petunia Face said...

Me, too, Rosalie, me, too. :)

And Lauren Hutton is so freaking hot, as is Sophia Lauren and Helen Mirren, though something about me saying that makes me feel as if I'm saying a "male nurse" or a "female doctor." "A beautiful older woman." Maybe I need to move to France where they appreciate aged things.

Acanthus and Acorn said...

You never cease to facinate me with your observations. For what it's worth, I completely disagree with 31 being peak. I think it may be somewhere between 38-45, where confidence and beauty collide.

krista said...

i had something to say, i know i did. but then i read that comment from your dad.
*sigh*

Judy said...

I see that your Dad beat me to the comment...and, as usual, wrote it so much better than I ever could. I too was going to say that you have never been as beautuful as you are now. Now you are so much more than pretty. Now you are beautiful, womanly, compelling, exotic. Now the character shines through and presents a package that is breathtaking. And if genes make a difference and good living, you have so many more years of growing beauty left. Pretty, even beautiful people are a dime a dozen-BORING. Now a days, you don't even have to be born pretty-if you have money or access to cosmetics, soft and hard plastic surgery, you can get pretty. It takes so much more to be beautiful and beautiful you are-more so every day.

And I REALLY don't think this comes from just being your Mom.
But I am.....Mom

Ciara Obscura said...

Damn, your Dad's comment shuts us all up.

If Facebook teaches me anything (but it basically teaches me nothing except maybe how pathetic I am at wasting too much time)... it's that I'm so very very happy that I did not peak in high school... or college... or in my twenties. I love where I am now and am pretty sure I'll more so love where I am tomorrow (to totally steal from your Dad here).
Your words alone show your immense beauty and vitality... we are lucky to have you sharing your wit with us.
Thanks a bunch.
Cath

Michelle M in KY said...

OH SUSANNAH...
Your Dad (weep, weep, weep) so made me cry. That's one of the sweetest things I've ever read. You're one lucky girl, I mean WOMAN!