Tuesday, November 16, 2010

If Only . . .

When I was very young, perhaps ten years old, I had an image of myself as an "old person" (i.e., someone in their 40s) that went something like this:

I would wear eclectic hippy-type clothing, and/or jeans, with things being loose and feeling comfortable. My clothes closet would reflect every color of the rainbow.

My hair would be shoulder length or longer and most definitely not gray.

I would wear contacts, because I knew even then that my eyes were bad and there is no denying some things.

My nails would be, not long, but not little nubs on my fingers.

I would not be fat, or have moles. I would be the picture of health. I would sparkle.

My work would consist of being a writer and/or a college professor, and I would spend my days in the thrall of learning, my mind constantly opening up to the cosmos, taking in all things. I would live in a small house near the college, and I would have a dog. My students would love me, my fans would write to me, and occasionally I'd have a book signing.

I thought I might look something like the picture on the left there, except maybe without the head scarf thing and possibly, being the realist I am, not quite that slender and beautiful.

The reality has proven to be something quite different.

I kind of know how I turned out as I have, but sometimes I see myself in the mirror and think, what the hell? How did that happen?

These days I have a streak of gray running along the left side of my head and flecks of gray in the remainder. My hair is just barely shoulder length and, being very fine, it generally just lies there like a pile of short, limp hair-sized whole-grain noodles.

The clothes in my closet are generally conservative and mostly dark; they almost all made by Alfred Dunner. They're your grandmother's clothes, really. Matching tops, sweaters and pants, mostly in blue. Not a hippy item among them. No tie-die, no light, fluffy cottony clothing to catch the breeze. No, instead I have Spandex, because I am anything but light and fluffy.

I have little barnacle-like things on my back and stomach. Barnacles of old age, someone called them.

My bones ache with the rain, creak when I stand up, and my knees hurt when I climb stairs. My eyes are changing constantly and reading has become more chore than love, much to my consternation. God forbid I should need to thread a needle.

My writing career has me standing at a precipice looking at my job skills and thinking, what happened here? When did the world change?

Thank goodness I no longer chew my nails, but they are, alas, short and stubby.

I am pretty sure I do not sparkle.

This is because I am overweight, and my efforts to shed those pounds like a snake tosses off a skin turn out to be more like the efforts of a shaved grizzly to put on both hair and pounds for the upcoming winter. I grow larger and more filled out with every bite.

With a too-large body comes the health issues that one reads about and shrugs off when you're 30 and watching the pounds pile on. I paid for that 10 years later.

And of course, someone who is overweight can't wear hippy clothes and look breezy and free. That is why I have a wardrobe that reflects the reality of the situation, not the fantasy.

There are times I try to excuse this part of the equation, the obesity part, and I am sure there is some truth to these excuses. My weight gain began when I started taking infertility drugs and then drugs for endometriosis that sent me on a hormone roller coaster (that was in the late 1980s). The weight started coming on and never stopped, for my hormones never leveled out and have remained a problem, especially after a hysterectomy.

Still, I think that is an excuse. But try as I might, I can't get the diet thing to work for me. And it frustrates the bejeezus out of me. I hate to fail.

So I look like this:

This is the real me.

If I could only figure out how to become that me I imagined 40 years ago. Ah, if only . . .


  1. I'm not where I want to be either. My problem is simple: feet hurt, knees hurt, and I am LAZY. Most of us are just plain lazy when it comes to our health. I didn't used to be until the feet and knees started hurting. I picture myself 25 pounds lighter in my head, but the mirror does not lie nor do photographs.

  2. Sis,
    You're still beautiful to me!!! Always will be.


  3. I could have written Snappy's comment! I'm still trying, but am starting to accept the things I cannot change. Maybe one day I'll even embrace them :-)

  4. It's hard getting the 'inner' us to match with the 'outer' us. I think what we are is a melding of the two.
    I often think of a line from a song in the Rocky Horror Picture Show", "♪ Don't dream it, be it. ♫" (It's not a movie I would model my life after, but I like that line : )

  5. You are adorable! Now go and get some hippie clothes. It's not too late. And of course people who are overweight can wear hippie clothes! In fact, they are perfect for people who are overweight. Though I think your weight is fine. We're too obsessed about SKINNY in this culture. I used to work in a health food store. Hippie land. Those girls wore lots of long and flowing tunics and cool pants that tied at the waist... Have some fun Anita! Your chance is now.


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