Several years ago, I glanced into a bathroom mirror and got a sneak peek of how my face will look when I’m a much older woman. It was the way the brightness of the hallway lighting interfaced with the dimness of the bathroom lighting, combined with the unmaskable exhaustion that had crept into my face itself. What I saw surprised, but didn’t disturb, me. I’ve seen it before, other times, in other faces. For a few seconds, it was as though I was having a staring contest with my mother. Seconds later, from another angle, I was making eye contact with one of my older cousins.
An older man who used to confrontationally hand out flyers on Sixth Avenue during morning rush hour initially, instinctively, addressed me as senorita when he trailed me down the street – until, overnight, I was renamed senora. At first I figured he was purely trying to piss me off, which he did, in retaliation for continually rejecting his leaflets. But he could have been calling it like he saw it. Most of us might look noticeably older or younger on different days of the week or different hours of the day, depending on the lighting and personal stress load we’re under; how much water, salmon, and red wine we’ve invited into our systems (regular red-wine drinking strengthens skin elasticity – Google it); or how recently we’ve exfoliated.
Yesterday morning, a friend emailed me a picture of the two of us, taken fewer than 24 hours earlier. There was that face again, the geriatric aura. Lovely. Although I don’t necessarily welcome it, I respect the aging process. There’s also nothing wrong with getting visual verifications that all the sleep deprivation is catching up with you – they can be just the wake-up call you need.