Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Eye Of The Beholder

Last week, I received a notice in the mail. It was from Douglass College (which has now been absorbed into the “Borg” education system which is Rutgers University. The school tried to retain its identity as a women's college within the federated system, but – as we all know - “resistance is futile”.) It is reunion time for the class of 1976. Ducky. There are outdoor dinners, events, lectures, indoor dinners, socials, pleas for money - the typical aging alumnae bill of fare.

It could be interesting – I guess – except I per diem lectured at Douglass for several years past my own graduation, and returned only two years ago to participate in their “Author's Corner” at THAT year's reunion. Add to that the fact that I live a whopping two miles from those ivy covered walls, and the allure of “returning to college” looses a bit of its high gloss shine. Want to visit the old Alma Mater? Go to the end of my road and make a left.

Still, I have never been to a reunion before. Here was a chance to participate and still sleep in my own bed at night. I called a fellow '76 graduate and asked if she was contemplating doing the “Debbie Douglass” thing one more time.

“Why? Do YOU want to go?”

“Well, I was thinking about it. There are a few folks I wouldn't mind seeing again.”

“But, Kat, they'll all be so ...OLD. It's been 35 years!”

I sighed. “We're just as old.”

“We don't look it.”

“Don't you have a mirror?”

“Look,” my friend replied emphatically, “we will never see ourselves as aged. It's wired into our DNA – it's a survival instinct. Other people grow older; we remain vital. I don't know if I want to challenge that.”

She may have a point. When I look at myself in the mirror, I still see strawberry blond hair and smooth skin. At almost 57 my hair has naturally faded from ginger to blond shot with silver. I have crow's feet, and those light brown spots can no longer be explained away as freckles. I DON'T see myself aging – but I know I have aged. So? Why do some folks think that's scary?

I see women in the public eye (actresses, comediennes, singers) and they look like weird disfigurements – plastic sculptured versions of how they use to be. (If you think Joan Rivers is bad, take a look at Dolly Parton!)

Must avoid heat of Sun!

Her lip have since inflated

Charlie's Angel now looks like Charlie's Asian

And Jackie Stallone looks like...hey...wait a minute...

The Mighty Favog???
 We DON'T want to be old. Yet, in centuries past, age was honored. Tribal Elders, Wise Women in their croneage, Arch Druids in their latter years all were seen as the Wisdom Keepers of their communities. I still remember my Grandfather, when commenting about his own gray hair, saying “I earned each and every one of them!”

We belong to a Nature Religion. We can stay young at heart, young in our thinking, and open to the “New”, but we shouldn't defy the natural order or reject the physical aging process. Hell, I refuse to be embalmed in plastic before I'm even entombed in stone or entrenched in dirt!
The essence of who we are is timeless, ageless, endless. Our bodies are our temples. As we become ancient shrines, the power within increases with each lesson learned, each trespass forgiven, each enlightened decision contemplated and enacted. Honey Bunnies, that's a WHOLE lot of magic juice, a blast of senior serge – Hell, I got the old people Pagan power running all through me! ( In Beetle juice it was “demons” but, credit where credit's due.)

When the time comes, we shall leave our physical dwellings and be renewed, then reborn. We get to do it all over again – weird parenting, pimples, puberty – so, relax. Enjoy your dotage. Paint your wrinkles and dye your hair pink. Take you eye liner and play “connect the age spots”. It's only temporary. I'd rather look old and speak out loud than look like a fat Barbie and be unable to move my Botoxed lips.

(p.s. I still haven't decided if I am going or not. I can see that nice, open air lunch on Antilles Field turn into a monumental bug fest. Instead of  meeting up with old friends, I can see myself drowning in business cards from  aggressive "Debbies" I never knew, or detested back in the day. Naw. There's no place like home. I think I'll stay there.)

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