We were sitting in the wood stove room. He was sitting in a small leather chair we bought on a trip north. He saw it and fell immediately in love.
“It looks so small,” I said.
“I love it. I love the lines, I love the look of the leather, and those antique wheels on the legs are perfect,” I couldn’t remember him being that smitten by something in a long while.
It was a beautiful chair and it wasn’t so much that it was small as that it was not the oversized, over-stuffed, kid friendly thing we’d been drawn to for the last decade. It fit perfectly within the small, boxy rooms of our house. Across from his spot are the wildly patterned chairs he bought me for my birthday or Mother’s Day.
I remember a few weeks after we bought them the thin fabric on the seats had started to come apart at the seams. I had been furious, the chairs had been a splurge from a store I love but am not able to shop at very often. We called the store and they said they’d never heard of that happening. They showed me similar chairs I could get in exchange after paying the difference. There was a back and forth, but ultimately the difference of $2000 and the idea of driving two hours round trip made less and less sense. I made peace with the wear and, in fact, came to love the frayed edges and the rose colored fabric that showed through underneath.
“I bought you reading glasses,” he said. “Two pairs, one for here and one for camp.”
I was surprised. “You did? When? And why?” I asked. He smiled and said nothing for a minute. I found myself feeling two very clear emotions: gratitude and embarrassment. The former for the way this gesture let me know that he had heard me saying things like, “I can no longer read things like shampoo bottles or cooking directions. Poof, gone,” and the latter for needing reading glasses sooner than he does, for aging.
It’s so strange that we pursue more—being older, having more things, more freedom, more time, growing old together, but when it really comes down to growing old together we resist. I know with utter certainty that I do it for him, and yet, there are times when I feel shame for not being the youngest, the fittest, or the whateverest.
“It was a few weeks ago. I was out and I was thinking of you and wanting you to have them when you needed them.”
The most potent emotion became the sensation of being dear. I am dear to him, not a disappointment, not a burden, not a drag. All those abstract wishes for someone to love me and keep me safe, I am living them now. Sure, all of it comes with a greater demand for humility, patience, and effort than I could have ever imagined or read in a magazine, but the reality is also more than the dream.
There is also a legitimate need for self-love and self-care that can’t ever come from a partner, no matter how amazing or committed they might be. I find inspiration and cues from women around me and from my own thoughts when I am willing to hear them. The latest come from things that happened organically, of all places, on Facebook. The first a closed group for women in their forties, the second a hashtag ( #fit40whatever ) also for women in their 40s trying to manage fitness/health/self-confidence.
I found myself thinking about all of these things and how relationships, self, friendships, and aging are all kind of laced together. I decide to reveal myself in all my tentative, panting, and maybe slightly whiny ways on video. I was fascinated to find myself actually enjoying all the ways my face moves as I talk. When I’m not inspecting my face as I try to apply makeup, not measuring the elasticity or sallowness, but just looking at myself like I look at others, I’m happy with me. Content with the changes in pacing.
Take a look. Let me know where you are. I’d really love to know. (Also: I am not as scared or pissed as this cover shot would have you believe.)
Tagged: aging, Confidence, marriage
You’re inspiring, truly. I’m turning 40 in a few months and am trying to figure out what that means, which sounds silly, but it is what it is.
I think we all have different milestones, hurdles, and “oh shit is this really happening” ages. I think the best thing to have grown up with is the idea of never being done. Because we just aren’t. We’re always growing up, fixing things, getting it right and then wrong, feeling competent and then incompetent. If we are ok with that, it’s so much easier. xo
I love hearing your voice and perspective. I turned 40 in December and I have those moments of too much focus on the sallow, etc. I want to explore that hashtag!
Ha! Still working on liking my voice 😉 I hope you’ll write about this stuff too. Your perspective always teaches me so much.
I’ve been turning issues I have with aging, regrets, fears, letting go, forgiveness vs acceptance, etc. over in my mind lately. That some things just ARE and that there is a time to be surprised/disappointed/inspired/depressed and a time to move forward/rest in the new way is a course of becoming I was not expecting.
Your writing about being in your 40s is powerful for me, and I am grateful that you bring it.
I feel like we’re developing new eyes.
It’s been more than a decade of being online and finding crumbs…marriage, parenting, eating, death, shame, assault, shoes, mascara, I am just endlessly awed and gratified by the tethers to enlightenment, safety, and a knowledge that we aren’t alone it’s been. Your gratitude series, Amy Turn Sharp’s sexy poetry, it’s just so rich and vital. Thank you for being you and for being with me.
I could have written Elan’s comment, but not with as much eloquence. I am in probably the healthiest (and happiest) place in my life but also (oddly enough), the most stressful (with massive physical symptoms), anxious, and self-depricating time. It’s a weird juxtaposition, and one that I wrestle with constantly. I used to think there was a light at the end of the tunnel. I’m now learning I carry the light with me, and it’s on me to keep it lit. Love to you.
You carry the light with you. So damn true. You know how much I cherish your voice. Thanks for so much.
I cannot tell you how much I love seeing your face and hearing your voice. You are speaking about all the emotions I continually struggle with in terms of aging, taking care of myself and feeling fit at all – You inspire me.
Danielle there have seriously been days when I have woke up in one of those Alexander and the horrible terrible no good rotten I think I’ll move to Australia days and I have channeled your voice and that, “Ok friends, tell me your good something today” and it/you have catapulted me into a happier place. What a legacy you are creating. xo
I’m so glad I found your Blog; I’m here to say hello from Australia & turning 50, & to let you know you’re doing great work, & that is does in fact get better, as well as different 🙂
I was riding my bike home from work the other day and thinking about all the decades of my life, and how this fifth one is really pretty awesome. I’m comfortable with me, with my life, with my choices. I have room to move around and move forward. It just keeps getting better!
This is what I needed to read today. Thank you. xo
I love seeing/hearing you in real time. I love that you are doing this 40+ stuff. I’m in it. I’m not sitting well with it. My greying hair, my poochy tummy, my inability to keep up with the 20-somethings. But why should I want to be them? I’ve already been there.
I am dealing with bone-crushing anger and the realization that there will never be justice, and quite possibly, never forgiveness. And I don’t know where that leaves me?
I work out 4 days a week, mostly. I am moving my body. I cannot run b/c my knees can’t handle it. so I do other things.
I am, for the first time in my life, being loved the way I never thought possible, a love I’ve watched others have (like yours and Sean’s) and…instead of reveling in it, I wonder if I deserve it.
I am sad for all the pressures I put on myself and the ways I judge Erin instead of embracing her. And how my daughters absorb this and are impacted by it.
I love you. Thank you.