Isn’t it strange what affects you? With me, it often is not the stuff that, theoretically, should affect me. Like the recession or the politicians playing dirty games.
But the little things.
I have been thinking a lot about getting old recently. Maybe, it is because I can sense that scary four zero trying to secretly sneak up on me from behind, whilst I am busy with my daily chores. Maybe, it is because I am now a parent, and that changes one’s perspective on life and mortality. OK, I know 36 is not old. But some days, when I have the time to slow down and focus on my own body, I can hear it complaining.
My back and neck did not get so tired before. My face did not need as much attention- creams and serums, tonics and masks- in order to look semi-decent. I used to get up in the mornings, shower in about 5 minutes, throw some clothes on, often not even bother to brush my long hair- and guys still fancied me. These days, when I notice some strangers glance at me in that way, it almost makes me laugh. I want to ask them: 'What are you looking at? Come on! I am an aging mother, always tired and slightly (?) overweight. When you see me awake that most probably means I either have a backache, am sleepy or my nose is blocked- thanks to yet another cold that my child keeps bringing from school.'
And when I think about getting old, I always think of my father. I was quite a few years younger then. It was in a pre-Skype era. When my father would send me hand-written letters by post. I know, right? And one of those letters affected me so greatly, I sat there for a while staring into nothing; and then I went upstairs and hid it in my folder, where I save things that matter. It was not a sad or a serious letter. Nothing too dramatic at a glance. He was talking about his job at the time, at a construction site he was supervising. He was talking about his team’s daily routine and management issues. And he mentioned that the guys often had a game of basketball at lunch breaks. My father used to be very athletic in his younger days. And basketball was one of his favourite games to play.
'It is funny, he said, how you suddenly notice that you are old now. You get the ball and you aim to throw it. Your brain thinks you can do it. It memorized years of practice, and it knows you can get that ball in the basket from this far. It sends the signal to your arms and you throw the ball, only your body fails you. In your head, he said, you remain young, fit and strong. But in reality, you are no longer the person you used to be. So you feel cheated.'
Whenever I stop and look in the mirror, searching for new fine lines, or other scary signs of aging, I think of how well my father explained it. I imagine how he must have felt when he could not play his favourite game as well as before.
PS You might realize, from Part I, that this is the same father who at the age of 64 gave me a half-sister. Who is a lot younger than my own child. If that sounds complicated to you, it's because it is.
To be honest, I would maybe have preferred him to keep playing basketball.