Friday, January 8, 2016

how to lose collagen and still gain in beauty

When I was a kid, like all decent 1980s families, we had a navy blue GM conversion van. We bought it to replace our old VW bus. In hindsight, we now know this was a tragedy- VW buses are worth a fortune these days and only scary child-snatchers drive conversion vans in the new millennium. But at the time, we were wooed by the wood paneling and custom carpet kit that blue van boasted. We were rollin’.

this is me, back when collagen was just
a word that didn't rhyme with anything

I never fit right on the bench seat in that van, though. In the beginning, my skinny white legs hung lifeless from the plaid upholstery. Once my feet finally reached the floor, my head had nothing to lean against any longer. It just sort of bobbed back and forth if I fell asleep on a long road trip. One end of my body or the other never had a minute of rest in that van.

Did you know a person can live her whole entire life and never quite fit in her place?

Which brings me to my point: this skin I live in slackens more every day.

They make balms and salves to heal my flawed foundation of beauty. Collagen is an old friend who hardly ever comes around anymore. This aging thing is a meant to be a tragedy, I think. There are starving people, homeless children, refugees walking across Greece, curable diseases running rampant in the third world, and yet here in North America, the signs of aging are met with OUTRAGE and fear.

At a great cost, I spread a cream all over it to tighten it up, whip it into shape. Science promises to solve every problem our vanity produces. All we have to do is pay up, trade our hard-earned money for hope in a bottle and a miracle in a tube.

But the wrinkles come anyways. Maybe someone should write a letter to those lotion companies and tell them the hands of time can’t be turned back after all. What’s done is done.

I’ve had this skin as long as I can remember. It’s always fit me so well until now. It began to worry me back in the year 2000. I heard a lady call into a morning radio show and warn us all about using lotion. She said our derrieres would flatten out like pancakes if we weren’t using lotion.

Look out, people! Don’t ignore your skin and then regret it later.

I didn’t want a flat backside, so I slathered the lotion on daily, priding myself on my diligence. Then the Great Fall began despite my best efforts, and life itself became meaningless, just like Radio Lady warned. (But not really.)

Thank the Lord above for those handy filters on our photo editing apps that make us look like newborns. At least our hideous skin can’t be documented for future generations. My grandchildren will have to face the Collagen Curse all on their own, oblivious to the battle I am enduring. Look at those old Instagram pics of Grannie. She looked the same until the day she died! (Poor future kids.)

Future generations will be duped by our photoshopped brilliance. They will probably blame the increase in free radicals in the polluted hyper-modern air, or the aging Sun will be accused of releasing extra-damaging UV rays that we, their lucky grandmothers, didn’t have to deal with.

I suppose I do feel kind of lucky. As this skin slackens, the slackening seems to make more room for me, for the real me, to live and be and have enough breath to make it through this life one day at a time.

On the outside I’m just your average-ish middle aged woman. But I’m bigger on the inside. Inside my skin lives an endless soul. She’s seems old sometimes, but she’s just finally learning how to walk.

All these years I’ve lived since we sold that big blue van have given me a complimentary gift inside this flappy old lady skin. Suddenly, I don’t fit in my skin at all. The extra space has made room for something I have always lacked: Perspective.

Did you know a person could look for a place all her life that she really fits, and then a light bulb could pop on over her head one day when she realizes she herself is her own place. I fit inside my own soul, and my own soul fits inside me.

It’s taken me almost forty years to figure this out.

Our souls are kind of a mystery, like the way VW buses make hipsters drool while conversion vans give us the creeps. We can only tell you how it is, we don’t have a single clue as to why it is.

These days I have parentheses around my mouth, crow’s feet by my eyes, a basal cell carcinoma scar on my arm, age spots appearing on my hands, a thousand tubes of face cream, and enough perspective to know I have never been more beautiful.

I am home at last after wandering through the dark and dry places.

I am still just myself, and that is enough. My shame has been undone by the vulnerable need to know who I am and why my life matters. I see the hearts of the people around me and they are so worthy of love and care. They are all a mess, just like I am, but together we are pretty amazing.

1 comment:

  1. This is beautiful Carrie. So good to read at my age and all ages. Thanks for your raw and candid writing :)