I recently had the pleasure of doing a photo shoot with old Phoenix friend, Devon, and new Ohio friends Dennis and Cheryl, who did my hair and makeup. It was an impromptu sort of thing. I showed up with no costuming, only shoes, and Cheryl let me play with her clothes.
At the end of the day, we agreed we’d gotten some good shots, and I was exhausted. Following a hurried meal of beer and pizza, I rushed home to my dogs. Then, this week, I got a look at the captures. I called one of my girlfriends immediately, practically screaming into the phone: “I’m an ADULT!”
At thirty-four, this should have been obvious, but it wasn’t to me, especially since Jake and I have been spending many a weekend with his co-workers, most of whom are under the age of twenty-five.
The me I saw in those photos was a full grown, mature woman with some wrinkles. I looked back at a photo shoot from 2005, eleven years ago, and yelped at the difference. For the first time in my life, I realized I was aging.
My face looks different now than it did years ago. I’m way more angular, practically noble in my pointed edges. My skin shows evidence of damage. But, I suppose, what shocked me most about my recent photo shoot was the way I posed with power, staring straight into the camera or aloof but confident in others.
Who was this woman in the pictures anyway? She looked like a grown-up. However, most days, I don’t feel like a grown-up, even if I don’t get ID’d for beer anymore. While doing a shot of God knows what at the Flats in downtown Cleveland last weekend, I didn’t feel like an adult. The next morning, when I thought I might die of a hangover, though, I suppose I did.
I have changed, and it’s not just apparent in photos. I’m more organized and driven now than I ever have been, as evidenced by the release of my first novel, Bite Somebody. I’m more fearless, agreeing to star in a short film this summer despite my terror of walking in front of a video camera. I understand what it means to be a friend; I understand what it means to be polite. My temper has calmed some. I’m way less likely to spout off and make a scene now than I was even a couple years ago.
Then again, I also love watching cartoons on Saturday morning. I laugh at really dumb jokes. I’d rather talk about sex than politics, and I absolutely refuse to watch the world news … which might actually be a sign of maturity, since I now know my limits. I am fully aware of things that will crush my spirit, and I avoid them.
I do dishes. I do laundry. I water plants.
Holy shit, I’m an adult. And I’m not getting any younger.
Women in their sixties are laughing at me right now, but this photo shoot brought about an epiphany I was not wholly prepared for. I even started using the anti-wrinkle eye cream my mom gave me because she didn’t want it.
Is aging simply the passage of time? I don’t think so, no matter what my sun damage says. Aging is growing, developing, and (if we’re doing it right) becoming better versions of our previous selves. As we age, we learn and grow. We hopefully become less selfish, although I’m still working on that. We choose to embrace the world around us or shrink from it, depending on personal preference–but, with age, at least we know our own preferences.
I prefer laughter over tears.
I prefer Benedict Cumberbatch.
I prefer a night at home with my husband over a night out in Crazy Town.
I prefer Jeopardy! over the world news.
I prefer the person I am now to the girl I was years ago, and maybe I will one day prefer another, older version of myself.
I’m aging, and it’s kind of scary but all right. I’m still gonna use the wrinkle cream, though.