"You wait, little girl, on an empty stage
For fate to turn the light on
Your life, little girl, is an empty page."
Sixteen Going on Seventeen from The Sound of Music. (1965)
Hair raised in fright, ghastly shrieks echoing from the bathroom. A silver strand of hair was observed and I nearly had a heart attack. That was when I turned thirty years old, my appointed scary age.
Despite the unfortunate discovery, my birthday was uneventful. Homemade birthday cards from my stepchildren and flowers from my new husband. My thirtieth birthday was celebrated with heckles from younger colleagues and family members.
Quietly I reassured myself that I was still young and that I could panic when I turned thirty-five. Tonight is the eve of the scary age birthday.
My husband amuses himself by pointing out the grey in my dark brown mane. "Hey, hon I found three more" he would cackle.
Disgusted I looked up at the mirror in the car, there they were. Glistening and shining almost screaming to be noticed. Recoiling, I recalled my mom inspecting her dark tresses frequently when I was a pipsqueak.
"Remember, if you pull one, many more come to it's funeral."
That didn't prevent her from engaging in a strand-a-thon. In the white porcelain sink there were a few gray hairs matted down by a pool of water.
You know what, she was right. A million more did come to the funeral. She couldn't pluck out those suckers fast enough. The follicles were untamed weeds taking over her scalp.
Of all the funny nuggets of wisdom from my mother, I remember the grey hair one the most. Oh and don't be bringing home any babies.
Eventually she grew accustomed to hair dye but it took a few scary ages for her to get to that breaking point. Perhaps she grew tired of unclogging the sink drain.
Where the hell did my youth go? I recall when I was able to pull an all nighter before an exam. Talking on the phone to a boyfriend until the wee hours and being able to function on a few hours of shut eye.
The energy disintegrated within the sands of time. Back in the day I could get by on a hour of sleep ready to conquer the world. In my thirties a lack of sleep equals a lady drooling and groggy.
Anxiety and turmoil was interspersed along the years. However, it worsened after my twenties. In grad school I developed a nasty insomnia spell.
I envied my stepchildren and how they stayed up till the cows came home. They probably had the opportunity to take a snooze in a boring class. I had no such luxury.
In the past I have written about my fertility issues. Soon after we were married, my husband and I went to a reproductive specialist. We didn't have the money to go through with treatments. The doctor said "You are still young, you still have time."
When leaving the doctor's office all I could think was "Awww, he said I'm young." The rest of the defeating news was an afterthought. My stepchildren are now teenagers and frankly a new reason for the insomnia and grey hair. The desire to have a baby has taken a backseat to getting through the horrible teenage years.
January 7th, I turn thirty-five. Why are the thirties so tormenting? Is it because of the 'life check' we all do? Life check means interrogating ourselves by asking the following:
1. Am I where I should be at this age?
2. Do I need to make a change?
3.How close am I to completing a goal?
I'm sure by now I may have alienated readers over thirty-five. Trust me when people say thirty is a scary age it feels like several sharp harpoon stabbing at once.
I'm with you when you over hear a twenty something declare they are old. I too want to slap the youth off them.
Am I where I want to be? Well, no. I don't thing anyone at any age can say there are where they want to be. Even when dreams are realized it is without 100% happiness.
Hiding beneath the surface like those grey are regret, yearning and unsatisfied emotions. In a vulnerable state of being, those feelings make themselves known.
So here I am on the eve of my birthday, living how I'm supposed to be right now. Successes are coming but not without hard work. I'll make the rest of thirties count, one grey hair at a time.