It Was Nice to See You

Today as I was slurping soup from a take out container at my desk, I reread a line from a memoir about relationships.

…[relationships are] not only time: it is also paradoxically, the denial of time. For forty years I saw myself through John’s eyes. I did not age. This year for the first time since I was twenty-nine I saw myself through the eyes of others. This year for the first time since I was twenty-nine I realized that my image of myself was of someone significantly younger.

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

Although the author was specifically talking about marriage, I could relate to what she had written from the perspective of many relationship types. I thought particularly about those formed in my 20’s and 30’s when I felt beautiful and lived on adrenaline. We were all fabulous weren’t we? Anxious only about physical imperfections that could be masqueraded by sensual lingerie or held in by architectural undies. We didn’t think about how we’d get home. We had moxie and sass, and we relied on it.

I caught a glimpse of that in myself today, mirrored by my current penchant for flowing caftans rather than deep v-necks that used to show off my ridiculously oversized cleavage. A deliciously cynical, french, (are there really any other kind…) lover had posted a video…for business, not pleasure, and I was hoping it would be as hot as my soup. It was not.

Much like myself, my little frenchman had grown more generous through the middle, and looked less a leading man than he did the father of three that he was in real life. Don’t get me wrong, I still remember him the way he used to be. I will always remember him the way he was. That’s something his young wife will never have – memories of him in his lean, sexually-charged twenties.

Maybe that’s why old sweethearts with expanded waistlines and thinning hair fall back in love. Regardless of time, they still see their old flames the way they used to be. More significantly, the mirror they hold up to us reflects back the image of how we still feel on the inside: vibrant, vital, and yearning for connection.

A Curated Life

If you ever look at my limited social media feeds and it seems curated, rest assured I’ve lost my mind and become obnoxiously self-possessed.

I passed the 40-year mark a while back. It was kind of like passing through a 60 km zone on a spring day trip when the sun was finally out after a long winter. I barely noticed.

Somewhere around 42, I realized that much like my teen years, my contemporaries were up in arms about all the shit that they wanted to do. Actually angry about it. I wondered who specifically had been stopping them in the first place? Besides their own ideas, values, and internalized limitations.

I get female anger. Most of the world doesn’t, but I do. I sloughed off the skin of public-shaming long ago thanks to a childhood spent with an abusive SOB father. Small mercies made me a ferociously I-Don’t-Give-A-Fuck-Gal long before most of my generation realized they’d been stymied.

All of a sudden, my social media began to light up with the expectation that we needed to reinvent ourselves. “Mid-life” apparently, required a revolution. How exhausting.

I must confess, I was curious. I went to hear life coaches speak, I signed up for daily motivational messages, I paid for classes and sat across from other middle-aged women who thought that they weren’t good enough. But I was good enough. My friends were good enough. They were just convinced that they weren’t. After a few months, I unsubscribed, stopped reserving tickets, and felt even more confident that I was just fine the way I was.

2020 sent us all into a ‘new reality’ with ‘unprecidented’ changes. Having to stay home dialed up the heat on women in their 40’s who bought in to all of this bullshit of having to have it all and maintaining their 30 year old glow. Learn to make sourdough, make your side hustle sing, turn your down-time into wow-time.

What. The. Hell???

What a crappy way to transform the energy of solitude into another whore of capitalism.

Gratitude baby – that’s the secret. Gratitude does not require perfection, curating, or throwing your energy into monitoring the daily growth of sourdough. Unless that’s what you gets you humming.

To be grateful is to not allow shame or ego infect your life. It is deep pleasure derived from things that bring joy, and being open to sharing this with the people you love. I have no desire to see your photos that look like they were pulled from a better-homes-and-how-ladies-should-be marketing site. I want joy.

As a buddhist teacher once told me, when you do the dishes, just do the dishes.

You’ve Been Approved

Whether I like it or not, I’m now invisible in this world. A world full of men who will never get it, and younger women who don’t know what’s coming for them.

Trust me, it’s coming for you ladies, and one day, you’ll wake up on the wrong side of 40 and know that everything every woman has told you is true. But by that time, you’ll be invisible. No one will care about your first grey hair, or your disappearing waistline, or the crepy skin that sneaks up on your eyelids. No one will care but you.

You go from innocently whoring around and feeling sexy in thongs and stilettos, to wearing full panties and open-toed sandals, well past the end of summer.

One minute you’re riding your lover like a bull, and the next, you feel like a cow.

Just the other day I thought I’d spruce up my sex life by purchasing new lingerie. I ordered it online. It was just past my nose – a plus-sized leopard print piece of spandex, gripping my neck like a dead snake, when my husband shouted up the stairs. I locked the door.

What the hell does he want? It’s past 7:30pm. That’s my safe zone for trying on clothes that no longer fit or having whispered conversations with my gal pals about important stuff, or masturbating without interruption.

As I was pulling the leopardwear over my breasts when my sweetheart yelled up the stairs again. This was the most enthusiasm he’d mustered in weeks; “GUESS WHAT?!”

He was stressing me out. I started to sweat. Anxiety sweat at the back of my neck where I was being strangled by $19.99 3xl made-in-china-Amazon-spandex nightie.

I was reevaluating my peri-mid-whatever-o-pausal body in the bathroom mirror. I wasn’t in the mood to guess what. I was in the mood to let the reality of my mortality settle in under a really sleazy piece of made-in-China-boudoir-big-sexy, that gave me the resemblance of a sea-lion in a leopard costume. I looked at myself in the mirror again. Maybe I’d forgo trying to spruce up our sex life and just order a dildo.

“What”, I responded, hoping he couldn’t hear the gritted teeth or edge of tears tone in my voice.

“Your life insurance was approved!!”

And that’s where you’ll land ladies. With one boob squished between a cheap piece of lace and a man who who gets harder over your life insurance than he does over your lingerie.

Over time the excitement of making your tits look great in a low cut shirt for a night on the town funded by the guy who’s gonna get lucky, wanes. Those nights-out get stretched over longer periods of time as biological clocks seek count down to reproductive ground zero. The closer they get, the harder we try to fold ourselves into neat and tidy personas like straight sided sheets.

Since I’ve check ticked the education, child-rearing, responsible years off, my reflection shows it. A good day comes down to not waking up soaked through my light jersey-knit nightie with night sweats, or if I can fall asleep without the prescription sleeping pills my doctor doles out like crack cocaine.

About a year ago, my waist ran away with my thermostat, and I’ve become a hot, walking, talking example of what happens when you’re totally unprepared for whatever this is. We hear about perimenopause, menopause, your 40’s….

There’s twaddle about institutionalizing the decline of the female form as it ages (as in, medicate us through menopause so we keep quiet and invisible), and finally achieving the wonderful, too-busy-woman-trying-to-be-a-man success that defines us all. .

It will be you and you alone my dear women, who decides that lovers are ok, lingerie still can be fun, and that it’s ok to do whatever it takes to bring out the magic in you again, especially when you’ve become invisible.