When I was younger I always wanted to be older. I couldn’t wait to enter the grown-up world, have a job, a child, a marriage and to be taken seriously. I forgot to be young in all the hurry, and to enjoy the privilege given to me by Mother Nature: youth. Smooth skin, smooth buttocks, a belly without stretch marks and the strength to keep on dancing all night long without a total collapse the day after. Effortlessly getting over a broken heart and believing to know it all. The glorious carelessness and the prospect of a future full of promise.
Now I’m older. More than halfway. I’ve missed the fun parts in a flurry of work, raising kids, loving and separating, moving house and social obligations. I’ve moved mountains, gone through rough patches, and the traces are still there. Scars on my belly, a writer’s bum, worn-out vertebrae and a wrinkled face. I have lived and you can tell. It’s not earth-shattering and I am not a bad-looking fifty-year old, but there are moments I hardly recognize myself. As a kid I used to stare at the enormous flap that was my auntie Miep’s chin, now I see the first signs of this in the reflection of my iPhone. I don’t mind growing old gracefully, resigning myself to my age, and embrace myself as feminists would like. But do I have to start now? There is so much to let go and to accept. Kids leaving home, hormones all over the place, men leaving, friends getting ill and parents in need of care. Being a parent brings no solace, as everybody keeps saying, only frustration about all I have to give up, and about the platitudes I’m being bombarded with. Such as: physical decay comes with ageing; a forty-year old woman in a club is sad; and that I shouldn’t wear tops with short sleeves any longer. There’s only one way to get through this period in my life and that is to enjoy myself as much as I can and make life as beautiful as possible. So I will go out, I will put on that short-sleeved top. I will party despite disease and illness. And yes, I will have the remains of that sad divorce removed from my face. And I will buy that sexy lingerie that I could never afford. Hotter than my daughter, hell yeah.
Incidentally, I am still younger than Madonna. She was my example when I was fourteen and now that I’m fifty, she still is. A woman who doesn’t give a toss about conventions. Until the bitter end.