I’m not afraid of getting old. I don’t mind the idea of flabby skin and wrinkles, of extra softness. I remember how I used to play with my granny’s hands, pressing the skin at the tips of her fingers in an attempt to fill in what was empty. Her skin didn’t fit her anymore, but I didn’t see it that way. She looked the way a granny was supposed to look. Old and soft. Sweet. That, I look forward to. It’s the in-between stuff I fear.

At my age, thirty-five, I’m supposed to still shine. I don’t have any wrinkles yet, but as I said, I don’t mind them. What I hate is this mediocre version of myself I’ve become. In the beginning, we’re only hints of what we’ll become, and at the end we’re a shadow of what we were. But what am I right now? Is there ever a time when I’m exactly what I’m supposed to be?

I only have one scar on my body. It’s the place where they opened me up to bring my children into the world. I can’t hate that scar, because I know what it represents. But I can hate how it changes the way any amount of fat looks on me. I hate that I still have it in me to be what I was a decade ago, but that I’m not doing it. Or maybe I am. Maybe I’ve reached a point where I realize that I have to choose which parts of me will grow old first. That sounds too much like mediocrity. So I stretch myself too thin.

In my writing, I fear the same things. I don’t fear the end, when my mind is spent, and I’ve said all I can. I laugh at myself when I read the first book I wrote. I read it from between my fingers, but I know it for what it is. A start. But this stuff, in the middle, when I’m experiencing life at break-neck speed and writing every chance I get—this is what I worry about. This is where I don’t want to be a hint or a shadow. I want to be twenty-one, full of inspiration and promise. I want my words to fit the page and leave no room for squashing around.

When I’m old, and I hear my husband telling my grandchildren about me, I want to hear him say that I was beautiful once and that I wrote things that stirred his soul. And I want it to be true.



~ by Rachel McMahon on December 28, 2012.

2 Responses to “Thirty-Five”

  1. The interesting thing about “old” is that it’s a moving target. It seems to move in blocks of 10, so, in 10 years, when you pass through the 45 mark, you will look forward to “old” again and it will be closer than it is now and somehow farther away. Then, at 55, where I will soon be, perhaps you will start to see the undone things and hurry to do them before it’s too late, whatever too late means. Hopefully “old” will be drawing nearer but still seemingly out of reach.

    I think old is a state of mind. I think that we only get old if we allow ourselves to. I’m not afraid of it. I just don’t think that I’ll get there any time soon. There’s too much to see and do to let trivial things like age interrupt the flow of life.

    Because of who I think you are and because I think that you married well, I believe that your husband will tell your grandchildren how beautiful you are still and that, after all these years, you still stir his soul with the things that you write. And of course it will still be true.

    Remember this quote from The Shift by Carl Jung? “Thoroughly unprepared, we take the step into the afternoon of life. Worse still, we take this step with the false presupposition that our truths and our ideals will serve us as hitherto. But we cannot live the afternoon of life according to the program of life’s morning, for what was great in the morning will be little at evening and what in the morning was true, at evening will have become a lie.”

    Considering the hills that the 20 somethings have to climb these days, I think I’ll enjoy my afternoon.

    • It’s been a while since I watched that, but it may be time to drag it out again. Thanks for taking the time to leave such an awesome comment. And you’re right about my husband. He didn’t agree with what I wrote, but he didn’t understand it either. I’m really not afraid of aging at all. I’m afraid of not being all I can be right now.

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