I tend not to look in mirrors these days, bad enough that I sometimes come upon an image advancing on me in a shop window, has me thinking who’s that old doll? Then I realise that it is me and I am appalled. I tend to forget how I have matured; my body never ceases to amaze me.
The latest vagary has involved my neck; I am pleased to say that I have recently lost weight and I note that my neck protrudes rather like a tortoise neck, scrawny. However, it has cleverly NOT lost the flabby undercarriage that has grown at the bottom of my face. So, I have jowls and scrag making a novel frame under my chin. I feel rather petty grieving over the state of my attributes – who cares? I do, clearly, and I am surprised. I have treated my body like an old sock without contemplating the idea that it would eventually assume all the appearance of an old sock, revenge?
I won’t attempt to describe my body in detail just believe me, losing weight is supposed to be a good move. Nobody tells you that the flesh does not retreat in line with the weight loss, it does not snap back and become svelte, it hangs in crinkles looking as if it is dying for a good iron. It is possible to squash and squeeze into a far smaller size which is encouraging and it is fortunate that nobody but myself and my remarkably tolerant love have to see this spectacle. She finds a great deal of humour in the sight of my shrinking body and can be heard hooting away but she says she preferred me fatter.
Yet the spirit remains as taut as ever the moods of exultancy and gloom continue, the thought processes seem intact though the memory becomes eclectic in what it calls to mind. I can forget a simple word & remember the words of an ancient song that I never liked much anyway. I do try to be philosophical and most of the time I manage it pretty well. I get tired but then I get up at dawn and have an afternoon nap. In fact I am very happy for most of the time so perhaps this is a sign of geriatric daftness. I think not.
Being old has given me an appreciation of the glories of nature which lay dormant for much of my youth when I lurched from the joy of drugs to the ecstasy of booze in a kind of blur. All self-inflicted suffering received resentfully and I hardly noticed sun or trees. I was extremely thin then and my bones jutted out uncomfortably into my lovers. So, better late than never? I think so, though this is not a homily by any means.
So, I am almost reconciled to the terrible state of my body, I can move around the world, get pleasure from the sight of the sunrise, I can look at the moon, enjoy music and books and I love writing so I shall conceal the body under nice gear and proceed albeit slowly – and who wants to rush anyway?
If only I could control the impulse to compare all the other old girls and judge. But we women are taught to compare at an early age and it is difficult to abandon the habits of a lifetime and while there are gorgeous creatures prancing around in their seventies or eighties it is a tad discouraging to truly accept and enjoy my poor old carcase. Yet I do. As a receptacle for my mind and for my true self – which I like to think of as my own immortality.