naked: it doesn’t stop at puberty

I haven’t thought very much about aging, and that is because the whole idea scares the shit out of me; I haven’t yet, at the ripe old age of thirty-mumble, come to terms with my body and my relationship to it, how to keep it healthy and happy and give it what it needs, how to truly and completely accept this carcass of mine, how to truly and completely accept that the person who loves me and sees me naked every day thinks my body is beautiful. And now you want me to think about what I’m supposed to do after the ravages of gravity and the great heft and enormity of all those accumulated years settles upon my boobs and my butt and my thighs and my neck, even? I don’t think I can do that.

The whole idea seems unbelievably daunting, and the inevitability of aging, well, inevitable and speeding ever-closer. The rapid onset of the wrinkly years is somehow a terrible joke and an awfully unfair one, too. Do you ever get to stop and catch your breath and figure out where you are and who you are, before you have to start all over again?

I was a pre-teen and terrified of my budding breasts, my period, the
fact that I had hips and then suddenly I was worried about their size,
which became worry about what someone would think of my breasts as my
shirt came off and my bra came undone, even as I began to worry about
the size of my ass and the shape of my thighs and the out-thrust of my
belly and the teenage skin problems that never quite cleared up and
cleared out and now I am thinking about the lines under my eyes, the
elasticity of my jowls, the structural integrity of my thighs, the
fortitude of my breasts and their perkiness, my desirability in the
face of the breakdown of my body.

How am I ever supposed to
forge a peaceful, loving relationship with my body when it just never
? Will I ever? Or will the beautiful and natural aging process be
what finally shuts me down, has me showering in my clothes and slapping
away loving, horny hands? Because there is no way I am going to age
like the unbearably beautiful Helen Mirren. No, I fear that I will end
up as one of those withered apple dolls, shrunk to half my size and
completely asexual.

Though science says, maybe not. Maybe you can keep having very satisfying sex
when you are a senior citizen. Crazy! Unbelievable! Whoa! But
seriously, what that says to me is this: maybe with age comes wisdom,
and with wisdom comes finally accepting the fact that imperfection is a
fact and not a flaw in itself; that this is what bodies do–they sag
and hang weird and look nothing at all like what you see in the
magazines and you are perfect and touchable at every age, so throw off
your adult undergarments and get to knocking boots, beautiful.

It is a wonderful notion, as long as you try not to picture your grandparents doing it.

3 Replies to “naked: it doesn’t stop at puberty”

  1. Oh, don’t be sad! This made me think about my grandma, with whom I just got off the phone and who’s pushing 80. She is, by any measure of it, ~30 pounds overweight. She’s had cataract surgery and surgery to repair a torn meniscus (in her knee). The discs in her back are apparently totally out of whack from years of swimming, playing tennis, ice skating, hiking, and going on bike trips. The only med she’s on is something to keep her cholesterol under control. She gardens and walks around a lot, has a more thriving social life than me, drives places, and flirts with every man she meets.
    And everyone loves her because she’s hilarious, sharp, friendly, and ridiculously hip in a crazy old lady kind of way. She’s been around, she married my grandpa for the sex (and stayed happily married to him until he died a couple years ago so it must have been worth it), and she makes old age seem like just another thing you do. The only part she dwells on is having to slow down because you get tired faster. But the rest of it… she always tells me I look amazing, and that I’m going to take over the world, and having babies and getting married and getting old, saggy, and wrinkly and doing the whole menopause thing will happen, or they won’t, and either way the sun is going to continue to rise and set and there’s no point in hiding and wringing your hands because then you don’t get to do all the things you want to do.
    I try to think about all that whenever everything gets overwhelming.
    …And holy crap, she just discovered Facebook. I kid you not.

  2. I have an insane fear of again, which at age forty-mumble has progressed from a slight terror to full-blown freak out. I want to age gracefully, haven’t figured out how yet. Shit, I haven’t figured out how to be a graceful 40-something yet!

  3. I am 56. My precious darling girls, aging is happening every second of every day, subtly and slowly, and that is good. It’s what is supposed to happen. Work with it. Keep as healthy as you can (and I am not good at that, believe me), make choices based on the long view, and remember that you are not your body. If you’re lucky enough to find someone who loves you, the real you, then sex will happen regardless of your age and regardless of your outer shell, and it can just as good and just as bad as it ever is. Life is life. We should try to enjoy it as much as we can, just in case we don’t come back.

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