At least I’m not incontinent. Yet.

When I was 22 years old, I convinced the guest services people at the Ripley’s Believe It or Not museum that I was 14, therefore saving a couple of dollars off the admission price.  Sometimes I could pull it off at the movies and get a cheaper ticket based on my being part of the 13 & Under crowd. Except I was 20 years old.  Crime doesn’t pay but sometimes lying about your age does.

On the downside, getting into bars and clubs could be a 15-minute hassle at the front door.  While all my friends had been let inside and given wristbands declaring they were old enough to drink a beer, I would be stuck outside with the bouncer or something trying to prove my driver’s license was legit.  And don’t get me started on the trials and tribulations of buying a pack of cigarettes.  You’d think I was being interrogated by the Feds for crossing the border illegally. 

Those who know me, but have only recently met me, tell me I don’t look older than 30.  I guess that’s a compliment but then again, I’m 34.  The fact that I look like I am maybe 30 years old kind of bothers me.  It digs at my inner spirit, the one that still laughs at fart jokes and is afraid of throwing up without her mommy there to tell her that she will not choke and die on her own vomit, no matter how many times Jimi Hendrix comes to mind.  It reminds me of the younger me, the one that was once only 20 years old and could still run around the block without worrying about the state of her aching ankles (and, if I’m being honest here, the ache in my ankles kicks in by the time I pass the house next door) or sleep in until 2 o’clock in the afternoon with absolutely no guilt.  And no oversleep headaches.

But I’m not younger.  I’m 34.  My face says 30 but my body says…oh, you can’t hear it over all the crackling joints and rattling bones.  Back injuries, hearing loss, the slow but progressive symptoms of carpal tunnel, nerve damage in my shoulder, sun damage, memory loss, crow’s feet, worsening vision, enamel erosion, broken blood vessels on my legs, stretch marks across my butt, gray hairs, upper arm swingfat, and my flabby, unshapely ass.

If I had any of these physical defects in my twenties, then nobody told me about them.  And I thank you for that.

Back injuries: Gymnastics. I would still do it all again, but this time with more commitment and a better spotter.

Hearing loss: Listening to extremely loud music as a teen. I still listen to loud music but only because I can’t hear as well as I used to.  It might be loud to you but it’s never loud enough for me. And to save us all the time and frustration, just go ahead and repeat anything you say to me.  Then I don’t have to say, “What?” all the time.

Carpal tunnel:  Caused by years of computer usage and flippin’ the bird at traffic on 9A.

Nerve damage: I have no idea.  I probably lifted my arm to wave hello to someone and nearly severed it. I’m weak like that these days.

Sun damage: Hey doctors, not all of your patients are aware that skin discoloration is a side effect of a certain RX and that it will most certainly take place ON MY FACE.  Warn a girl, would ya?

Memory loss: I can remember all of my teachers’ names and every address I’ve had since 1984 but that phone message at work about contacting the Department of Education three days ago for a VPK order – what on Earth are you talking about?  And didn’t you wear that shirt on Tuesday? Oh, it’s still Tuesday? I must have forgotten…

Crow’s feet: A good face/skin moisturizer is a must, especially here in Florida. However, I do like to think of my crow’s feet as a reminder that I try to find something to smile about.  If I didn’t smile, I wouldn’t have them. I probably wouldn’t have them if I didn’t squint so much either.

Worsening vision: a fateful meeting with a crazy lunatic of an eye doctor got me into the wrong pair of contact lenses back in 1995. My corneas swelled up and the doctors declared Macular Degeneration! Good thing they were wrong or I’d be squinting a lot more and my whole face would be one big crow’s foot. Or would it just be referred to as a Face Talon?

Enamel erosion: I probably can’t blame this on aging though certain health issues have popped up over the years that explain away some of my dental problems. That and the Tooth Fairy is a bitch.

Broken blood vessels: Most of my working life has had me on my feet (better than on my back, I suppose – bah*da*bing!) so I have splotches all over my legs. They’re subtle but on the verge of becoming the stuff of clinical research trials. Or abstract art. Take your pick.

Stretch marks: I’ve had a baby. I gained 40 pounds during my pregnancy (my pre-pregnancy weight was only 92 pounds!) and nothing grew on me but my ass.  Then it deflated.  As did my hopes for having some junk in the trunk in my life as a MILF.

Gray hairs: The damn things spring up like weeds.  I can color my hair one day and be plucking scraggly sprouts of silver tinsel the next! Whose sick joke is this? Like the stretchmarks on my ass weren’t enough to give me a complex? At least I can hide those in my pants. I can’t very well put my pants on my head.

Upper arm swingfat: I’m sure there is some scientific Latin medical term for swinging arm fat like Upperus Armus Swingfatticus strain 7.33 but it doesn’t matter to me.  I’m unhappy, Universe.

Flabby, unshapely ass: I could do something about it, but I won’t. I have low blood pressure and a kinda-prescribed pound of bacon to eat.  Doctor’s orders.

I guess I’m not too worried about what kinds of physical changes my body and I will be dealing with in 5 years, 10 years, or 20 years.  I hope by then I’ll have met a man who loves me for me, who enjoys repeating himself, and shares a fondness for Post-It note reminders stuck all over the house. For now, I’m just coming to terms with the realization that I’m not 20 years old anymore.  Or even 30 years old anymore. And that I can’t turn around too quickly when someone says to me, “Hey, turn around!” for fear of throwing out my back and being laid up for another week. 

But, then again, I probably wouldn’t hear them talking to me anyway.

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About Dena

I'm a suburban Clevelander by way of Oklahoma City, by way of North Florida, by way of Southern Maryland, by way of Upper Michigan, by way of Northern Italy, by way of Lower Michigan, by way of Texas. Because of living in so many places, I have something in common with almost everyone I meet. I love reading, writing, and American history (especially reading or writing about American history). I'm interested in culture of place, historical trauma, and writing about the kinds of histories most people don't know about.
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5 Responses to At least I’m not incontinent. Yet.

  1. Chris says:

    “You’d think I was being interrogated by the Feds for crossing the border illegally.”

    Nope, they would just wave you on, give you a new ID card, and benefits.

  2. David Patterson says:

    Thanks for the belly laugh. You write SO well. You think you’re seeing the effects of age at 34… just you wait 🙂

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