birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

What is There to Tell?

What is there to tell? I don’t have many secrets anymore. I wonder, is it a function of growing older?

I’ve only just recently started to think of myself as old. It didn’t happen the first time I bought clothes that I ended up not wearing because they looked wrong—too young—when I put them on. It didn’t happen the first time I felt the achy tug on the outside of my knee when I climbed a flight of stairs. And, it has been happening for about the last three months.

Or, maybe it’s been five months now. Maybe it started when we had our first Christmas in the snow, and ice, of Massachusetts. I remember tottering—TOTTERING, for God’s sake—along the icy sidewalks, and WORRYING that “I could fall!”

I know it was confirmed by the short skirt I bought on sale at the end of last summer, but could not bring myself to wear because of how “pudgy” my “old” knees looked. Later I found one of my favorite little black dresses stuffed and forgotten at the back of a shelf—my saggy arms now just look sad in its little capped sleeves, AND my butt is broader even though I’ve lost weight!

And, finally, there is the gray hair—that is still whisper soft and shines in the sun—but is now as fine as silk chiffon and limp as a wilted tulip after a week without water.

And did I mention that my nose is getting larger by the day, while my lips and eyebrows and eyelashes are disappearing. And the spots—all over my body—are cropping up in pink and brown, and even colorless; none are threatening—yet. But, who knew?!

Well, I did—and, I didn’t. I somehow didn’t KNOW that all this would happen to ME. I worked for most of eight years with older adults; I learned about so many aspects of aging. And, somehow I expected that they wouldn’t happen to ME. It never even occurred to me that they would HAPPEN to me.

Most recently—last week I was watching TV with my 30+ year-old daughter, and I kept wondering why the women stars of “Big Little Lies” kept talking so softly, why the directors let cast and crew get away with that. When my daughter got up to change the baby’s diaper, I reached for the remote—lo, and behold, she had the volume set way too low—for me, for my OLD ears. Oh, and did I mention that my eyes have faded from French blue to the palest of gray?

And, while we’re on the topic of visiting daughters—I have more sympathy for my in-laws when they stopped traveling to see us. Traveling for two days to spend five in a strange place with strangeness all around—is that how I want to spend my time now? Will I need to move closer?

So, I guess I must confess: I AM an OLD woman now. Most of the time I still don’t know it, I mean, really KNOW it. And, at this moment it is the only secret I have to confess.


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