It smelled of beer. I don't like beer, I thought taking in a slightly run down event space with cheap furniture and cigarette buds on the floor. The commentator of the sports game running on several screens had a hard time competing with the noise from the loud bar underneath. It’s a rock’n roll chick's book release, I thought, this is a weird venue but probably a conscious choice.
I wore a tight black mini dress with an ankle long sheer overlay and lacy sleeves that resembled tattoos. My freshly curled long blonde hair looked nice in the mirrors behind the bar. I felt okay about myself. For thirty seconds. I walked through the room of about 80 people and nobody looked up. Not one person looked at me. Not one person saw me. Now the mirrors screamed: crow’s feet, lines, crepey skin. I am too old. The message in my head went into a loop, old, old, old.
Even the author herself who knew me ignored me. WTF? I snug out and down the stairs, my lips were trembling. It was too embarrassing to cry now. The compassionate valet was close to hugging me wondering, “How was the party? Not good?” I gave him a big tip and answered: “The party sucked.” What I really thought was: I suck. Life sucks. What, dear Aphrodite, is left when the sex appeal of youth is taken away? My smarts obviously didn’t work like magnets.
What the hell do we do when our confidence shrinks in fear or view of sagging skin? Do we give up, cut our hair and stuff our bodies into frumpy unisex lounge pants so that we can melt comfortably into the sofa and munch sinful chocolates instead of committing sensual sins? Do we drown our sorrows with Drambuie? Or hide our fears with nip tucks and inject poison into our faces no matter the long-term results? Burn our skin off with CO2 laser facials to end up in agony for two weeks? Or do we proudly wear our furrowed faces using them as weapons against ageism?
Whatever we’re up to, the question always is: are we motivated by fear or a true self aware confidence of being all we can be? Are we in self-love or self-hatred?
At the time of the party I was 60 and I was angry. I did not like my life. As a proud former rebel I hated the martyr I had become in more than a decade of playing "normal." My repressed anger unloaded itself in a car crash forcing me to open my eyes; anger became a motivator for change. I dug up the fiery power of Kali, my creative, action-packed pissedoffness; if nobody sees me I’ll see myself.
A rebel does not give in to the status quo or the options at hand; she creates her own reality.
So I did. I got a life coach and went on another vision quest. I had met my dragons before but now I was ready to slay them and their limiting beliefs. My reward was the treasure of self love, the most powerful alchemical ingredient, which let me see my life in a new perspective.
"Age is mindset, another one of your excuses not to live the life you came here for," said my inner teenager, also called my eternal Millennial soul, and pulled me into a fashion journey.
"Play," she ordered.
I experimented with different expressions of "my rebel style" also with outfits "so not me" and felt my judgments right there, on my skin. Most of all though I felt joy, this cosmic giggle... I looked into the mirror and saw my little girl playing dress up. She had no preconceived notions, she played, curious, open to feel and wonder and completely in the moment. "This is who we really are," my teenager smirked.
I joined her in the moment. I played. I was back in the ageless zone, where time and space don't exist just the freedom to be.
After a year of daily Kung Fu in self awareness with affirmations like I wear what I feel, I say what I think, I got it; it's all about walking my truth and being what I would love the world to be. I don't want the world to be 16 but everybody to discover their essence and dare to go for it.
Truth lies in our openess to play. Play disregards the norm and not everybody thinks that's cute.
"You are desperately trying to look like 20," a midlife group member commented on a picture featuring me in funky boots and a vinyl mini skirt.
"It's 16 actually," I responded with LOL emojis.
"It's so silly, you and your 16 thing," a friend of mine responded to my online story rolling her eyes. "Grow up."
I had been grown up. I did everything a grown up was supposed to do; okay, I never got married but I had long term, loyal relationships and gave birth to a son, I was a successful entrepreneur and got my kid through college. I worked fiercely for three decades.
I don't want to be grown up anymore. Grown ups suck. I want to be everything I am, the whole package, and sometimes that might feel like 16. Most of us have one of those crucial moments, a day or period in our lives that needs reliving, redemption or its crushed promises to be revived.
For me 16 was the time of my first love. I smell the fragrance of hay baking in the summer sun. I hear the Troggs rock'n rolling in the country barn and my drummer boy whispering "Wild Thing" into my ear. I had no preconceived notions; I was curious, open to feel and completely in the moment.
My mom crushed my innocence with her fears; she forbid me to see the boy ever again.
I buried him like I had to bury my truth; I couldn't win. I gave up. I submitted to my mother's ultra conservative rules and regulations until I threw my engagement ring from a 10 year older conservative man into a puddle; the best rainy night ever. It was not just the No to a man who had been chosen for me, it was No to my mom, no more good girl stuff. I went to college to become a bad rebel stepping out of the traditional woman role.
I took a four decade long journey to get "me" back, the kid and her magic, the teenager and her romantic dreams.
Yes. I want my drummer boy whispering "Wild Thing" into my ear. So I went out today and bought a light blue denim overall, ripped and all. It looks like the one my mother had "accidentally lost" when I was a kid and bought me proper dresses instead.
I will wear the overall like on that summer day; with my heart on my sleeves.