I’ve always known that it happens to mere mortals, but I didn’t think it would happen to me, until the other morning. Wrinkles. It was a few weeks ago that I happened to catch myself in the mirror in the harsh morning light, and I saw them, on my face. The “Wr”-word. I don’t care if other people have wrinkles, but we’re talking about me. I’m not other people.
For pretty much my entire life, I have always looked younger than I am. People told me that all the time. They don’t anymore. Apparently, I am now the poster child for a woman her age. Even my hands look my age. I still remember looking at my mom’s hands when I was a kid and thinking that someday my hands will look like hers. I’ve thought of that memory probably about 100,000 times. Well, that some day is now.
I’ve never worn makeup, never used lotions, and almost have never worn sunscreen. In fact, I remember the first time I heard the word, “sunscreen” back in the 90s. I didn’t even know what people were referring to. I literally thought sunscreen was a cardboard shield people held over their head when they went to the beach.
When I was a teenager in the 80s, we wore suntan lotion, to deepen our tans. We didn’t want to minimize the sun’s rays on our skin, we wanted to magnify them by about 1.21 gigawatts.
I’d get my boombox out, rub in the suntan lotion, and lay out on my parent’s deck on the sunniest, hottest days in July, basically barbecuing myself, until I started feeling sick. I also lived at the neighborhood pool all summer, and once in a while I’d use suntan lotion, but mostly just so I’d smell like a coconut. It was the scent of summer.
Luckily, I do tan nicely. I wasn’t one of those unfortunate girls who burnt painfully, just to have her skin peel off a few days later to reveal even whiter skin below.
Boy, life was so much better before we knew better about a lot of things. Everybody and their dog used to smoke in the 70s. We ate sugar sandwiches, played in toxic creeks, and rode in the back of pickup trucks with loose firewood. And we tanned. We thought tanning was good for us, just like mercury thermometers and covering up with 45 blankets to sweat out a fever.
After seeing the wrinkles the other morning, I did what pretty much every woman alive has done at this point in her life. Panic.
I’ve tried about a dozen different products trying to undo the damage. Neck firming cream, forehead spackling, drywall paste. I read that taking collagen supplements can help. It’s supposed to reduce wrinkles and strengthen nails. I tried clipping my toenails last week and snapped the toenail clippers in half. I guess that stuff really works, or that was one cheap toenail clipper.
Oh, and collagen is also supposed to help reduce joint pain, but nobody cares about their insides.
I’ve also developed my mom’s dark circles under my eyes. Thanks mom! You could have given me your smarts or good teeth, but nope, I got the raccoon eyes. People think I’m deathly ill or haven’t slept in 42 days, but nope, it’s just good ole genetics.
I have a feeling that I’m going to have to get used to the new normal, or just stop looking in mirrors. After all, ignorance is kind. I still know how to play make-believe.
What bothers me the most is to be like everyone else – a victim of time. Those summer afternoons on my parent’s deck probably didn’t help either.
The gray hair doesn’t bother me at all. Actually, I kind of like it. It’s free highlights, but the face that time didn’t forget? I’m not digging it.