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…•*¨*•.¸¸♥ ¸¸.•*¨*•♥ Finding Joy…

What It Feels Like to Stop Getting Noticed

200903_omag_val_220x312A few months ago, I spent an afternoon helping out an art dealer friend at a print fair. At a table in front of his display, I sat on one side of him while his assistant sat on the other; we greeted prospective buyers as they walked by. “Hi there!” I would say with warmth and (what I thought was) a touch of modest charm when I saw one coming. Time and again, from the men, I got a limp, dismissive “hi” in response, occasionally a nod. It wasn’t the Whistlers or the Chagalls that were diverting the art lovers’ attention; it was my friend’s lovely assistant. She wasn’t flashy or glamorous; but she had a smooth, milky, 20-something complexion and the sweet, expectant, wide-eyed look of youth. Thirty years ago, I might have been her.

Today, however, I’m 58 and I look it, by which I mean that I haven’t had any work done to make me appear younger. I’m trying to get down with the aging thing, to accept it—at least till I’ve decided that I can’t. Almost every morning I discover some other small reminder that I am growing older: an age spot, another wrinkle or wisp of gray in my (thinning) brows.

If you’re going through this, you already know that watching your face mature is not the most gratifying spectator sport—because no matter how constantly or enthusiastically you root for the home team, eventually age will win the game. Which is a good way to think about it, because the bottom line is that the process of aging involves a certain amount of loss. And what I discovered at that art fair is that if you have benefited from the currency of your looks, when that currency loses its value, you can end up feeling pretty bankrupt. Entering a room of mixed company—a meeting, a party—or walking down a crowded street, I’ve learned to expect that I’ll attract a little attention. I don’t mean that people stop in their tracks, open-mouthed, and stare (as they have when I’ve walked down the street with my 6 2, striking young niece), but I’ve been banking on appreciative glances for a long time. They make me feel pretty, which makes me feel happy. Not in the way, certainly, that motherhood has made me happy, or my work, but there is a small feeling of satisfaction attached to receiving these looks; it’s as if, at least on the face of it, I know how to do this female thing well.

So I guess it shouldn’t have been shocking to me how difficult it was to be distinctly ignored. I hadn’t been aware that the glances I’d been accustomed to had been falling off. That afternoon, I felt as if I had been stripped of all color and was the only gray-and-white figure in a richly tinted painting. I was Marion Kerby, one of the ghosts in Topper, all dressed up and nowhere to…be seen.


November 14, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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