I turned 43, this month. I can understand how some people in their 70s, look and say to me, “Trust me, you are still a baby.” This actually happened to me two days before my birthday at the hair salon when I told them to chop about seven inches, or more, off of my hair. It was my “shock and awe” campaign for turning 43 – the idea of something I could see, visibly, about my changing age.
Little did I know, my body had a change already in store for me to grasp my increasing age. Yesterday, I found a gray hair, “DOWN THERE” where the sun doesn’t shine. That was an aging bomb shell for me. I just assumed I was many years away from gray hair “down there.”
I’ve had a couple of the tale-tell signs I have heard about being in my 40s, but I have convinced myself I am aging better than those around me who share my numbers. I still have my close-up vision (no pile of Dollar Store glasses surrounding me at restaurants and at home yet). I still exercise and keep up well enough with the whipper-snappers in their 20s, jogging along beside me. And though I don’t get accused of being in my 20s anymore, people often seem genuinely baffled to find out my true age.
So seriously, a gray pube at 43?
Later that day after the “big find,” I drop Nathan (my son) off to drum lessons, and Jessie (my daughter) and I continue to the post office to mail a couple of packages. Suddenly, as we are walking to the mini-van, she begins singing, “Country roads, take me home to the place, I belong, West Virginia, Mountain Mama, take me home, country roads.”
I said, “Where did you hear that song?”
“A girl at school was singing it,” she said.
So we sing it together and suddenly, I’m not 43, I’m four and I’m back in my aunt Tracy’s bedroom, at my grandmama’s house on Radio Drive, belting out John Denver’s, “Country Roads” with my cousin Laura while we look in the big, floor-to-ceiling mirror at our four and six year old selves.
I just so happen to have that song as part of my music collection on my iPhone. As Jessie and I leave the post office parking lot, I pull it up on the phone so Jessie can hear all of the words. She could hear them today at six, and I could be carried back instantly to a time when gray hairs were nowhere on my radar and wouldn’t be for a long, long time.
I am four again. And I am graciously reminded that hair is hair, but memories are what life is made of.
Now I’m not so upset at the hair. I pulled it out. I expect that more will come, but now instead of being upset, I intend to embrace each and every gray, knowing that while they are coming in, I am creating more and more memories.
I am creating a life and life is creating me.