Not to whine (or at least, not to whine overmuch), but I have had a rough couple of years. Things are better, but you can see the marks of time in the wrinkles around my eyes that seem to have cropped up overnight. You can tell see by the increasing gray of my hair. The wrinkles are pretty much hopeless, but I am trying to figure out whether I want to color my hair or not.
I come from a mixed heritage where gray hair is concerned. My father had some gray in his hair as long as I could remember, and that would be from when he was in his mid-forties. My mother, on the other hand, was well into her sixties before her hair started being noticeably gray. I seem to be splitting the difference.
The gray in and of itself should not be anything to be ashamed of. My once and future boss has gray in his hair, and he’s just shy of thirty. Since he has black hair, the silver looks great. My hair, on the other hand, is a dark blonde faded to mousy brown. The gray is just that: dirty gray, not silver. I keep thinking that I want to color it to the warm caramel color it was when I was twenty.
I have colored my hair before: usually to some shade of red. It was a way to try to make myself into someone else. Someone with red hair who was confident and unafraid. I often thought of taking the Red-Headed Menace into a salon and point to his head and say, “This. This is the color I want.” I figured I could make a decent case that that was the color I had had when I was younger even though RHM gets his coloring ffrom his father.
I never did, though. Lately, I want to reclaim me, rather than turn into someone else. And I wonder why it seems so important.
I thought for a while that maybe it was regret. How did I get to the place where I am now? Can’t I have a do-over? Maybe it was fear: as I get older, and mortality seems nearer, and the death of those I love, and myself, seems to be just over the next rise, I feel the urge to erase the evidence. The years pass so swiftly now; the days are but blinks of an eye.
Or maybe I am just buying into societal norms about aging. I am in that gray area, old enough that I am past being interesting or cool, and young enough that my age is as of yet unremarkable. Maybe that’s what middle-age is. I still feel forty, though, and I look at my children with something akin to shock – how did we get here? Not that they are not wonderful human beings – I am really quite proud of them – but I wish they were younger.
I wish they were younger because I wish the wonderful years of their childhood would last longer. Watching people experience the world around them with eyes that are as yet unjaded and lacking in cynicism is wonderful. (My kids, being my kids, have always tended to be cynical. The apple does not fall that far from the tree.) Of course, it would also mean that they would have to experience middle school again, which would be a terrible thing to subject anyone to; it was miserable enough the first time around.
Time is not sands through the hourglass, it is water through a sieve. You reach out to touch it, and its gone.
I also wonder if I should color my hair blue, or some other shade not found in nature. Perhaps reject this entire “natural” hair-color business. I have friends and coworkers who have purple, or peacock blue, or pink, hair. To step outside the timeline. Rebel.
But what have I to rebel against? To what end? So my life has not turned out the way that I planned it. That’s true for so many people. I have lived an unremarkable life. Maybe I could rebel against the ordinariness of my existence, but that seems… ungrateful, somehow.
I have a home. I have food to eat. I have medical care. I have the wherewithal to sit inside this Starbucks until 1:00 a.m., because I choose to and not because I am homeless and have nowhere else to go to. I have a job, for what it is worth. I have coworkers I pretty much all like. I have friends, even if I do see them far too infrequently. I have a family. I am not alone, if too often I feel otherwise.
I would wish for magic. Yet, when I am honest, magic often comes at a price that I am not sure I am willing to pay. Been there, done that, have the t-shirt. I am not the sort of person to be able to separate the wonderful from the painful easily. That t-shirt has tear stains on it along with that intricate colorful design.
I am in the process of turning from the mother to the crone. The figure of the wise old woman is one of the few aspects of paganism that appeals to me. Yet, she has wisdom. I do not think I am wise, necessarily; kind, perhaps, intelligent definitely. Neither of those is wisdom.
So I look at the gray in the mirror. Maybe the best course of action is to do nothing, change nothing but my attitude.
That’s not going to be easy. Not at all.