My name is Mir, and I am 38 years old.
I don’t mind being 38. Oh, sure, 36 was kind of a banner year, and 37 was pretty good, too, and 38 has been kind of a challenge for various reasons (none of them age-related, actually), but I’m not one of those people who’s planning to lie about her age.
[As a joke, we once told Monkey that I’m 29 now, forever. He was confused and we explained how some women just stop at 29, and he thought this was the funniest thing he’d ever heard, and in true Aspie this-is-now-my-truth fashion now he never misses an opportunity to volunteer that MY MOM IS ONLY 29, SHE IS SO YOUNG, which was funny at first, but now if anyone actually believes him (not that I think they would) it puts me into Teen Mom territory, which is a whole ‘nother issue altogether.]
On the whole, I am happy to be 38. There are plenty of things to recommend it, actually. My life and my SELF are very different now than they were, say, 2 or 5 or 10 years ago, and that’s okay with me.
I had a whole discussion with Karen when she took so many beautiful photos of me last month about how age has changed my face in ways that I really like. For one thing, I’ve had acne my entire adult life, and it was only when I gave up wheat last year that I finally learned what life is like without zits. (It’s lovely, by the way.) Furthermore, with age has come some minor structural changes; I have dimples, now, which I think I didn’t used to have. Or they weren’t as obvious. They’re not super-prominent, but they are small dimples, nonetheless. I like them. Also—and I may have my woman card revoked for this one—I happen to LIKE the little wrinkles around my eyes. They flex and crinkle when I laugh, and I consider them a sign of a happy life.
I preface what I’m about to say next with all of this because I want it to be clear that I am not having a problem with AGING. I’m fine with growing older, and even with some of the changes that come along with it. I have no desire to be young again. I’m happy being the age I am.
Now—all of that said—I do have a couple of bones to pick with 38.
First (and I know I’ve talked about this before), I have had a love/hate relationship with my hair my entire life, as I think most women with thick, curly hair do. I have grown it long and cut it short. I have learned to embrace the curl and I have ironed it flat. And it wasn’t until I was well into my 30s that I kind of made peace with it and found a great stylist and FINALLY said, “This is my hair and I almost kind of like it.”
At which point half of it immediately turned white just to screw with me.
The day will come when I’m ready to embrace the salt-and-pepper, I think. BUT TODAY IS NOT THAT DAY. And my natural hair color is only about half a shade away from black. And because I am now fully embracing a really healthy diet, my hair grows really, really fast. And it’s well-documented here that I have bad luck with home hair color and cheap stylists, so I have someone AWESOME who colors my hair, now, but I only go to see her about twice a year because I’d rather not have to sell one of the kids to support my coloring habit.
So most of my life is spent with bad roots, and really, now, is it any wonder that I enjoy spending most of my time in the comfort and safety and seclusion of my own home, where it is not glaringly obvious that I am cheap and gray?
That’s the first not-my-favorite-thing about being 38.
The second issue I have with my current age is also hair-related, and maybe it has less to do with my age and more to do with having had a hysterectomy six years ago, but whatever.
[Side note: I struggled with hormone replacement for years and years and years post-hyst, because it turns out that it’s hard to regulate fake hormones. WHO KNEW? And hormones are necessary to keeping my bones from crumbling into dust, and also necessary to keep me from becoming a raging lunatic. And this, too, is well-documented here—the problems finding the right dosage, the difficulties getting the pharmacy to fill my prescription, etc.]
Over the years I have used three different hormone patches, two different topical hormone gels, an oral hormone supplement, and a partridge in a pear tree. (Note: Bird poop is not particularly estrogen-rich.) At the current time I am feeling probably the best I’ve felt since my surgery, and I am using an estrogen supplement that also contains a little testosterone.
Yes, testosterone. Just a little! Not enough to make me sprout a penis, or anything, but enough to give me just a wee bit of energy that seemed to be misplaced along with my missing uterus. (And by “energy” I of course mean “sex drive” and Dad, hi, I see something really shiny OVER THERE you should go check out.) All is (relatively) well in hormone-land, now, except that one of the side effects of testosterone is hair growth.
Look; I had the occasional rogue chin hair well before I started this particular hormone supplement. I am well aware that age brings this particular unexpected “gift” along with it, and sure, I’ve had many the commiserating conversation with my girlfriends about how no one ever told us that middle age would mean spending so much quality time with our tweezers. On the other hand, I remember my grandmother being completely fuzzy like a peach, so I rather suspected that old(er) age would bring with it a bit of an increase in that downy facial hair so many women end up with.
But I am not talking about “downy” or “fuzz” here. I am talking about black hair the diameter of pipe cleaners. I’m talking about the now-regular experience of standing in my bathroom in the early morning, blearily brushing my teeth, and glancing in the mirror and going to brush a piece of lint off of my chin only to discover that it’s an inch-long black hair jutting straight out from my skin and OH MY GOD WHERE DID THAT COME FROM AND HOW DID I NOT SEE IT BEFORE??
On this last trip the fancy-schmancy hotel had a lighted magnifying mirror in the bathroom and IT WAS HORRIFYING. I mean, I try to stay on top of hair removal as best I can, but on a lark I turned the light on one night and discovered that I had a full goatee. HOW HAD I NOT KNOWN?
I could tell you the hours I’ve wasted, since, debating with myself over whether I should run out and buy one of those mirrors immediately OR whether ignorance is bliss. I haven’t decided yet but in the meantime I am spending a lot of time cupping my hand over my chin in a faux-contemplative pose, hoping that it conveys “I’m a deep thinker” rather than “crap I’m old and growing a beard.”
This all leaves me with just one question, of course: Why aren’t the chin hairs gray, at least?
38, it’s a low, low blow. And I am sitting here, hair in a ponytail (all the better to disguise my roots, my dear), chin resting in my cupped hand, glaring at you.