Simone Benedict’s post about being rendered invisible made me face up to something unpleasant: I am disappearing. The color is literally fading from my corporeal self. I noticed my lips first. They used to be pinkish-red, the kind that only needs a little chapstick. Now, I look as if I am in need of a transfusion. The quest for the perfect berry-colored lip stain has been ongoing for a dozen years. I realize now that I am seeking the color of youth. Impossible.
My hair is turning white. No, it is actually colorless. I used to imagine that I would embrace gray hair with style and dignity, and hoped that when my time came, my gray would develop in a stylish solid streak. You’ve seen women like that, right? I hate those women. My colorless hair is coming fast and thick around my face, where it has the most power to enhance my newly pasty complexion. Even my eyebrows are turning on me. As if it wasn’t enough that they grow practically down to my eyelid. If I didn’t tweeze I would always appear to be wearing silver eyeshadow.
I am reading Nicole Krauss’ fantastic Great House, and she describes aging skin color perfectly, in the context of two people watching each other age:
like two people who have loved each other, however imperfectly, who have tried to make a life together, however imperfectly, who have lived side by side and watched the wrinkles slowly form at the corner of the other’s eyes, and watched a little drop of gray, as if poured from a jug, drop into the other’s skin and spread itself evenly…..
That is my skin: a bit grayed. I notice that when I have just exercised, and I’m experiencing that flush of good health, people smile at me more and are likely to engage in a bit of friendly conversation. In my less dark moments, I thought it was because I felt so good; that my relaxed and happy post-swim outlook was just more inviting. It ain’t so. Back to the pool. Go for the glow.