Hollie Grimaldi Flores: Growing older but not up
I was just 18 years old the first time a friend brought up the fact that we were aging. She came into our apartment, arms full of groceries and said, “Have you noticed how old my hands look?”
I did not think they looked old at all, but ever since, every now and again, while driving or washing dishes or putting on gloves, I take pause and give my hands a good long look. Do they look older?
Until recently I would have denied any signs of wear, but the invention of the high-speed air dryer makes it impossible to ignore — the back of my hands literally flapping to and fro, waving in the wind as I slid them up and down the dryer.
When did the skin become so loose? So thin? So lined? And I must admit, the newly discovered “freckles” may be something else. Whoever coined the term “age spots” knew of what they spoke.
In truth, it’s not just my hands showing signs of wear. Though I do not officially advance in years for another few months, my body is not waiting for it to be sanctioned.
Recently, sometime in the night, while I slept somewhat fitfully, a part of my chin slid off my face and landed on my neck! I had not realized it until I caught a side glance in the mirror.
I quickly took my wrinkled dried out digits and tried pulling my face back up where it belonged, but to no avail. I can see the possibility of future resemblance to a turkey or other slack jawed bird in profile. My eyelids seem to be following suit.
Keeping up with father time
This is not the first time I have noticed the aging process taking over, but I guess I thought the overall progression would be more of a glacial pace. Instead, it is seeming to be picking up speed — more like running down the hill I recently ascended. (Over the hill? What hill? I didn’t see any hill?)
Regardless, I have always known gravity would play a role in body part relocation. I had heard the tales of sagging this and dropping that. Still I was unprepared for the sheer volume vying for closer proximity to my feet than there place of origin. And since some of those parts are not easily seen, the drop has literally snuck up on me.
Of course, I realize physical changes are part of the aging process. Crow’s feet, laugh lines, wrinkles, folds and furrows — they are all signs of life lived. Along with hair that is thinning and turning grey and legs that no longer need see the light of day, I have accepted it all as inevitable. On my best days, reward for having made it this far.
What I will continue to resist, however, are the aches and pains that seem to be ever increasing and come on for no reason whatsoever. I find myself hobbling down the hall each morning as I encourage my ankles to loosen up and find their rhythm.
A daily walk begins with a knee that is not at all certain it remembers just how to bend and straighten and comes with a little creak each time I extend it. Even after an hour of movement, my body protests as I bend to pick up the daily newspaper that is faithfully delivered to the end of my driveway.
When did bending over become a three-part strategy?
People tell me to stretch. I know all about stretching. I stretch my arm to the medicine cabinet and reach for the pain reliever on a pretty regular basis.
And then there are, of course, the noises that escape with each effort. The groans and moans and sighs that accompany generally any exertion is a mini symphony. So much for peace and quiet.
I look upon the cold season that is coming and think of all the lore around stiff joints and brittle bones. I think myself too young to be concerned with breaking a hip but have pretty much given up on the idea of taking up snowboarding or revisiting skis as a mode of winter recreation and exercise. I don’t want to chance it.
I think of my poor knees, my ankles, my aching back. I don’t like it. I barely recognize this kind of thinking. My intent was to be forever young.
I try to stay healthy and keep up a pretty active social life. My body is growing older, but I am refusing to grow up. I will work on the side of me that is not defined by unwanted wrinkles and inflexible joints.
As writer William W. Purkey suggested, “Sing like no one is listening. Love like you’ve never been hurt. Dance like nobody’s watching, and live like it’s heaven on earth.”
My body may protest in cacophony, but my mind is still playing on.
Hollie Grimaldi Flores is a Nevada County resident and freelance writer for hire. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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