You know you’ve hit the middle age slump when you look at pictures of yourself in college, and even you can tell, you don’t look the same anymore. Maybe it is your dewy skin texture that is now revealing fine lines around your eyes and mouth. Maybe it is the grey hairs that you barely admit to having or the receding hairline, what I’ll call “slightly frayed around the edges.” For me, (yes, I am admitting this on a blog to the world), it is the appearance of extraneous chin hairs and white eyebrow hair that are peeping out to argue with my neighbor who believes I am a “23 year old girl.” Ha!
And it’s the grey strands creeping at alarming rates, into my hairline, just at the forehead. They cannot be disguised any longer by a change of hairstyle; they stand out even when my mommy ponytail says, “but I’m young and youthful…” I think really, when the grey comes in, perhaps the ponytail should go.
So I am forced to admit the ugly truth: I ain’t gettin’ any younger. I look at my husband, who I believe will look 25 when he is 60 (except for the hair, which is turning a distinguished shade of silver in spots), and I curse his smooth Mediterranean skin. For I know the day will soon come, when people start to ask, “Who is that old lady out with that hot guy!?” I have the type of skin that looks great when young, but turns blotchy with sun exposure and sallow with age. I have the type of hair that fades to mousy and the arms that sag and wave in the wind despite my half hearted attempts to tone by lugging around a 22 lbs toddler.
As I take a hard look at my reflection in the mirror, I wonder what my new appearance will bring with it. As a petite, blondish, perky gal, I have always struggled with the fact that people do not initially take me seriously. It takes people a bit to see beyond my exterior to see that I have some depth of spirit or mind belied by my pixie persona. I wonder if going grey will add some heft to my person, and what that will do to the person I am, when I don’t have to respond to stereotypical expectations at the outset of a meeting.
There are moments when I debate covering up the grey. I have colored my hair before, back when it did not actually matter and I wanted to try on a new skin for a bit. Now, it seems like I’d be covering up something else. I think about what my grey strands might say if they could speak. Could they tell the trials I’ve been through since my twenties? Could they reveal the losses in my life? Could they chronicle my journey from a wide-eyed small town gal to the person I have become? What does it mean to go grey?
I consider growing out a long grey braid, like a wise old Earth mother; that would make me seem wise, right? But I have learned long ago, that I can’t expect my appearance to tell the world anything about me. I can only know what it means to me. Only I can know what I carry around in my pores, my hairs and the particles of my soul. I carry my story around inside me. I hope to pass on some of my life story to my daughter, after all, she shares half of my genes, perhaps she’ll go grey too. And wear her grey proudly next to her fresh Mediterranean skin. This will be part of her story, who her mother and father were and what they gave to her along with her life.
So I think I’ll keep the grey for now, and keep my prerogative to change my mind a little later. The chin hairs gotta go, though…