By Mark McNease
I just increased the font on this to 175 percent so I could read it without squinting or moving the laptop back and forth, trying to get the right distance from my eyes. The days of reading with anything at 100 percent are as gone as my once-lower hairline and the tight flesh that housed my body at 30. Okay, make that 40. 45 …
We’ve heard endlessly the past two weeks about what trended last year and what will trend in the coming year (“trend” being one of the words, like “hashtag,” I could do with never hearing again, but I’ll make an exception for this column). People’s attention spans are as fleeting as ever, probably more so since the introduction into our lives of smartphone alerts, text messaging, and those “10 Things You Must Know Right Now” lists of things we absolutely did not need to know. But one thing will always be trending, and it’s something you won’t hear much about on New Year’s Eve celebrations dominated by pop stars and next generation masters of ceremony and smarm: age. It’s the one thing in our lives, assuming we keep living, that trends whether we want it to or not.
My husband said to me this weekend, as we enjoyed the sights of Ogunquit and Kennebunkport, Maine (including snow, something we forgot about in the tropical winter of New York City), that he could finally see his age. He’s one of those people who looks younger than he is. I used to be, too, so I know exactly what he’s talking about – especially when I’m caught unaware by my own naked reflection in a mirror. My body looks 57! And that boyish face I had that eluded signs of aging for so long now looks like it’s been around almost six decades. That’s the thing with boyish faces, when they finally look old, they can remind you of sock puppets, cute as hell but mushy.
For all the things I like about aging – especially the sense that I’ve lived long enough to do what matters to me and say what I think without taking other people’s judgment into account (time is, after all, running out, and it’s my time), there are those undeniable, inescapable realities as well: it’s more of an effort to get out of this chair; I have to increase the font size so I can read what I’m trying to write; I will never again be able to take a hot selfie that does not include a body double, and … time is running out! All the happy “you’re as young as you feel” talk will not change that last, indifferent reality. Time doesn’t care how many inspiring quotes I share on Facebook every day. It’s left billions of people behind, and it will leave me behind, too. But not today.
This is the first “One Thing or Another” column of a new year. There will be many more, so I hope you enjoy them. And I hope you appreciate my sense of humor. You can be sure you’ll know when I’m not laughing.
Let’s make 2016 a good one, for ourselves, our loved ones, our planet. It can be done. Let joy trend, and compassion, and honest self-appraisal. The age stuff is going to happen anyway. #OldIsBeautiful
Mark McNease is the Editor of lgbtSr, a website “where age is embraced and life is celebrated.” He’s the author of the Kyle Callahan Mysteries, co-editor and publisher of the anthology Outer Voices Inner Lives (Lambda Literary Award Finalist), host of the Live Mic with Mark podcast, co-host of The Twist Podcast, and the co-creator of the Emmy and Telly winning children’s program Into the Outdoors