All of this seems to have been precipitated by my 33rd birthday. Twenty-five didn't bother me, nor did 30 (really). But at 33 -- only seven years, as it is from 40 -- I suddenly feel as though I'm at the beginning of the end.
Part of this is because of a series of superficial health problems this year. Cosmetic tooth problems. The sudden appearance of sun damage on my face. Arm skin that looks a bit like my mom's. The occasional grey hair. The birth of the next generation of my family. And perhaps, a bit, the aging of my parents. Working on a college campus doesn't help either, surrounded by people who do not remember the Challenger explosion and look as though I'm speaking about the sacking of Rome when I mention it. Mr Gorbachev, tear down this wall? Sure -- just about the same time that Moses retrieved the tablets. I am no longer the precocious young professional. Instead, I'm the instructor who makes jokes about her age and surprises students by having a Flickr account.
I try very hard to believe that life -- or, at the very least, beauty -- does not end at 33. I eagerly read columnists who argue that women look and feel their best in their 30s. I am deeply relieved at the continuing sexiness of Halle Berry, and Gwenyth Paltrow, and . . . oh, god, I can't think of anyone else over 30 who doesn't seem irretrievably old. However, these arguments are always bookended by ads for eye creams or microderm abrasion products, minimizing their power to reassure. Oh, and Gwenyth Paltrow keeps that figure by exercising an hour and 45 minutes a day.
Add to this basic abilities that atrophy with age. My brain will no longer absorb another language as easily, so the possibility of learning French has probably passed. I have more bone and strength than I will ever have , and since it has avoided me by to date sudden future athletic ability is unlikely. I am probably at maximum technical ability and will, forthwith, be less adept and at the bleeding, cool edge of technology than I am now (or worse, than I was a few years ago).
Therefore, if my body has crossed some kind of age longitude, by extension my life is rushing by. I've lost my ability to achieve success by sheer charm, energy and showing up in clean clothes, so if there are things that I want to have in life I'd better achieve them soon. Hence, the feeling of desperation. If I'm at the height of my powers now and haven't achieved the heretofore mentioned fabulous life I want, is the possibility totally gone? Can I only have the fabulous and slightly tragic life of an older woman? Can I only be preternaturally preserved, as MSN calls Pamela Anderson and Demi Moore, and no longer simply fantastic -- at least, without airbrushing?
I bought skin firming cream, by the way. And home microderm abrasion products. And, for the first time in years, foundation. And a very, very expensive purse.
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