I am 49 and I embrace my age.
I have no issue with the fact that I am 49. I’m OK with it. I don’t look it (I have my mother’s skin. But I intend to give it back someday) and I sure as HELL don’t feel it.
Most of the 20-something kinder I work with think I’m 12 years younger than I am. This is coupled by the fact that I don’t act anything like their moms; my contemporaries. But there are some aspects of being this age that give me pause. I mean, hey! Let’s face it, I’ve never been this old before. I’m not sure what to expect.
Now, some might say that physically, mentally, emotionally, being 49 isn’t all that different than being 48 and 50 will be a similar experience to what 49 was.
I believe that with one exception: my eyesight is getting progressively worse. If there is one “Getting Older Pitfall” that I’ve tried to avoid at all costs, it’s going the glasses route.
I’d been lucky. My two older sisters needed vision assistance long before they hit the big four–nine. Plus, quite a few of my same aged friends are blind, as is my Stevie Wonder-esque paramour. But within the last year or so, I’ve noticed a huge change happening occularly. My big, baby browns just ain’t what they used to be. I can no longer read small print at a normal distance. Now, menus are moving further back of their own accord. Newspapers, too. Certainly, I’ve got nothing to do with this.
OK well…maybe a little.
In fact, I now find myself doing that combo move that indicates I have in fact, reached that inevitable genus/phyla “Homo Erectus Middle Agedicus”. I move my head back and squint my eyes as my hand, which clutches the text in question, extends farther and farther out.
Then, add this insult to the mix: I also have the distinct honor of being both far sighted and near sighted.
So, if I factor in all those factors, I have to concede: unless life can unfold within four to ten feet from me at for the rest of my life, I need glasses.
Time to make an appointment to get my eyes checked.
But I have a fantasy about this process. I walk into the optometrist’s office and he’s this dashing, handsome sort…early 50’s…slightly graying at the temples and he takes one look at me and gasps!! He can’t believe that a 28 year old would be having these vision issues.
But that’s not how it went. Not at all.
I made an appointment. I was asked if I could make it in that afternoon.
So, I walked in and met my doctor. She a large woman, rotund at best and her hair was styled in this old lady coif. And true to her occupation, she was sporting glasses with lenses thicker than Coke bottle bottoms—the kind that are so strong, they could burn ants if she walked by a mound at 4pm in August—even at 20 feet!!
She was nice enough. She asked me pertinent questions about my decline in visual clarity. After a few minutes of that, she told me she’d have to dilate my eyes. As she applied the drops, I got a good look at her face. She had enough crow’s feet to scare Tippi Hedren and her make-up was oddly applied. Her pencil eyeliner underneath her bottom lashes was crooked. It looked like the zig-zag pattern on Charlie Brown’s shirt. I guess she applied that sans the Hubble telescope she calls glasses.
Then I saw it.
She had a large flesh colored mole on her chin that had two long, coarse and wirey looking whiskers protruding from it.
How long were they? Well, let me put it this way: if she had a tiny TV on her shoulder, she could’ve gotten Venezuelan TV with crystal clear reception, simply by nodding.
As we waited for my pupils to enlarge with chemical abandon, we indulged in small talk. She asked me about my life. I told her I was a Broadcaster in Houston and moved here in 1990. I regaled her with stories about growing up in a small town in South Central Texas that was teeming with Polish people and their crazy ass Polish ways.
She conveyed that she was a native Houstonian….a mother of three and a firsts time grandmother as of last year. She went to Texas Tech and divorced her successful engineer husband five years ago. She’s a Francophile; loves all things French; speaks the language and studied at the Sorbonne. Because her divorce settlement was lucrative (as is her practice) she plans to retire early and move to Nice.
The pretense continued to flow until the chit chat reached a screeching halt. The subject of age came up. Well, as it turns out, Madame d’Estaing is only three years older than me.
She looked at me and sighed and I looked at her and sighed. Stark reality then entered the examining room and crowded us. I do believe she looked at me and thought, “That’s what I lost”
I looked at her and thought “Is this what I have ahead of me?”
I thought about this for a minute. Three years can make a difference, but not by virtue of the calender or time, necessarily. It’s what happens in those years. Life experience. Make-up can only cover up so much. Attitude can do the rest. Beside, who we are on the inside always creeps through to the outside. And that will always be the case when we let life call the shots as opposed to our dictating what happens in our lives.
We have more power than we realize.
The exam continued, but it was far more clinical. There was a discernible shift in mood. It verged on being uncomfortable and I know she noticed it as well.
After my eyes were properly dilated, she put that big binocular looking device up to my eyes, asjusted it accordingly, flipped a few lenses into place, then made be look at the eye chart.
“Please read the third line, Ms. Kendrick.”
I read a few letters, “B-D-E…is that the symbol for the Euro?”
“Just read the line please, Ms. Kendrick”
I did as instructed…..”B-R-E-S-Y-K-W-A-C-Z”
“Good”, was her only response.
I didn’t like the tension. I decided to say something in attempt to dispel it. “Doc, I have to tell you, considering my Polish upbringing, I think I dated that guy!”
My very hip looking, seamless bi-focals arrive next Wednesday.