Hello my dearest, sitting up here wondering what to write, musing about various things: about what it means to be in one's fifties; about constellations other than Orion - where is Bacchus & Ariadne's Corona Borealis in the night sky (visible spring & summer, I learn); about another coincidence surrounding E.D.'s birthday this year, on December 10 - that there will be a total lunar eclipse, the second this year, though not visible, I don't think, from Amherst - no matter - her soiree will far eclipse any local eclipse - so go West indeed, in the American fashion - where the eclipse will finally set.
I suppose I'm thinking about aging and what it looks like - appearances, especially - less about feelings of mortality, so much as loss of essence and attractiveness --- because I've embarked on watching, on the kitchen DVD player as I go about various chores, Season 3 of the HBO series, In Treatment. Such a worthwhile, fascinating journey, watching those episodes, the interweaving stories of disparate patients, seen by the lugubrious, sensitive therapist played affectingly by Gabriel Byrne. This season, Debra Winger plays an actress who's come to seek therapy because she's forgetting her lines - why?...
As I watched the first episode that featured her - I studied her appearance. One doesn't see her all that often, as a delightful, offbeat documentary some years ago, entitled, Searching for Debra Winger, went out of its way to examine. That she'd dropped out of public view for so long, after all her box-office success & fame in, what, the eighties...
I don't look like Debra Winger, and yet I found myself looking at her for realistic comparisons as to what natural aging looks like. She looks wonderful, and refreshingly her age. I googled her - she's four years older than me. I suppose I look about that much - younger. She's in wonderful shape, clearly eats right & exercises. Her hair is long - about the length mine is now or longer (truly, I don't sit there & watch, which is why I'm being a bit vague - I move about the kitchen, tending to a pot here, something in the sink there, fending off cats constantly begging for whatever's better that's not on their plates... so I see only glimpses of the episodes -- which are very verbal, so I listen, as I might to a radio play, to the whole thing, intently).
Anyway, Ms. Winger looks marvelous, and I appreciate how natural she looks, no obvious signs anyway, of plastic surgery, botox, chemical peels, what have you.
My own neck is showing signs of - is it wrinkling? Or thinning. Suddenly I'm aware of my neck.
From here on in I won't take anything for granted anymore. I like the way I look, better now than in the last 10 years or more, when I 'let myself go' for a variety of reasons. It was when I got a sense of hope back, that I started to attend...
I'm so much more in touch and in tune with aspects of myself, than I was in younger years. And so that's a great thing. Maybe not concomitant with aging - but coincident, in my case, like that auspiciously timed lunar eclipse...
I don't know darling, I'm just sitting here typing, and musing. I did a vigorous walk today, but never did get in a workout. Somehow I wasn't up to it. C.R. wasn't so interesting to me, and so after lunch, after a wonderful moment with you, I slept for a little while, fitfully. The sun never came out today.
In this season's In Treatment, the Gabriel Byrne character worries about his own aging, his possible inheritance of the disease that killed his father... and I couldn't help but think of the correspondence with, perhaps, 1.0 and his mother, with the legacy of the same disease. And the Debra Winger character's sister is dying of breast cancer, and she has to contend with that, what that might mean for her own chances, and how she would dread, especially for medically prophylactic reasons, to lose her breasts. And that terrifies me, I simply cannot imagine losing mine, they are so much tied up with my identity, I can hardly even tell you. And yet my oldest friend in the world, my age, had to confront just that, several years ago - and she did. And so I'm the chicken. So far lucky...
Sorry, I don't mean to be going off the deep end here - and I don't feel that way - my mood, that is, feels even-keeled.
I'm glad that I've lost weight. I've grown into my looks. I like who I see in the mirror, her appearance. That's a huge thing. I used to look at myself and see a distorted monster, I'm not kidding. Excess weight, unhappiness -- they take a massive toll on attractive appearance. Sometimes I look at myself twice - can my own profile that I once despised, actually look like that of a quite a nice looking person?
Whatever age I am, and evolving into - well, wow!!!! So there's hope!
And I do feel hope. I dream now, and feel freer to do so, than I had. I don't mean nocturnal dreams in my sleep. I mean the ability to form hopes & dreams & images of myself that I might wish to attain - in just the lightest sense possible. It has to do with what I'd like for myself... not what others (or others' expectations that I all too effectively internalized) demanded of me.
That's not all gone (how would one measure?) but a lot of it is. I do feel a sense of having been in this horrible cocoon for many years, in which I shut myself off, grew a thick carapace around myself. And I thought that's all there was.
Does a caterpillar (a literal one) realize it's going to become a butterfly? All conjectures as to its possible self-awareness aside -- I doubt it.
And so, though I'm a sentient human being, and I had always strived -- but not so much in ways that worked for me - well, I had no idea that I'd walled myself off like a caterpillar, thinking that that's all there was -
and no one is more surprised than me - that I'm turning out, at long last, on my own terms - to be a butterfly
dearest love - very many kisses - I hope, so very much so (and I believe so) that something of the like may be happening with you -