Well good morning everyone.
Last night we had my company’s Holiday Party. I wore the Narciso Rodriguez dress, again, and got my hair up onto my head in a slightly fantastical construction. One piece dangled down, in a ringlet. Let’s pause to give vivid matte red lipstick its due.
The curl fell enough, over the evening, to skirt the Prom In Small Town look. Maybe even to add a post-modern fillip. Or so we will believe if you permit. I scolded the High WASP voices telling me not to Make A Show, and walked out into cold and dark San Francisco.
Throughout the night, with both hair stylist and colleagues and their families, I found myself discussing the idea of age. Can I request a favor? We need to work on phrases like, “I feel 30!” Let me not forget my manners. I will add, “Please.” I believe what we really mean when we say these things is, “I feel like the construct of 30 to which I subscribe!”
You know ? We assign all sort of attributes to imaginary age states, most likely to balance the inexplicable shortness of our life against its concomitant magical length. That’s a lot of big words. What I mean is that with any luck we get a lot of life to live, and it’s still awfully short. So, in an effort to get our arms around the concept of Our Lives we try to figure out what it Will Be Like when we hit age 30, or 40, or 70. (I think this is particularly pronounced for women, given the age phase dependencies of our fertility. A subject for another day.)
But we’re just imagining things. We are always imagining anything about getting older, because we don’t actually know.
As a result, when we arrive at 55, and put our hair up into an ironic Deneuve “do,” so complex that we can still smell hairspray in the morning, we may think, “Oh, I feel young!” But we don’t. We feel 55, and adventurous. We feel 55, and in sure-footed possession of our experience. As Steinem said, famously, when told she didn’t look 40, “This is what 40 looks like.” And feels, and talks, and acts like.
Seems like a small and picky detail of language. But I don’t think so, not really. We are always searching out meanings, as humans do. Language is how we pin meanings to the board, like butterflies under glass. As we arrive at one age or another, we need to merge our experience with our construct of the age we reach, not try to locate our selves in imaginary youth.
I don’t want 40 getting all the credit for 55’s work.
So far, the only bad things about aging I’ve run into? Hearing and memory decline, needing to say, “Oooof!” when I stand up, and the closer proximity of my death. But I don’t want to think, “Oh I feel young,” as a way to characterize my state. I want to pin this to its correct spot. 55 isn’t the new 40. 55 is just something we didn’t understand, before. We need to pay attention to the lives we live, and reconstruct our imaginary age phases to match reality.
The day will come, with any luck, when I am 80, or 90, or 100. Then, and only then, will I really know what it feels like. And, with any luck, I expect to be jettisoning more imaginary ages.
Hair credit, no compensation received round here, Joseph Cozza Salon.