Yesterday, while at Walmart with my family I was feeling pretty good about myself. For one thing, I was wearing jeans I hadn't been able to fit into ever before (bought them one size too small 2 years ago and lost the tags so I couldn't return them), but also because I am proud of my family and like to be out with them. Ryan had just bought herself a bird with snow-shoveling money and was off buying bird supplies for little Fibonacci (yes, she is that awesome of a nerd), and Tom and I were both pushing carts with boys in them. When it came time to check out, we went through the line in our usual fashion: Tom in front with Tommy and the groceries, re-bagging everything after the cashier because Tom is very anal about what things go in which bag in which order, then me with Danny in my cart and large items underneath, then Ryan as a separate customer buying her own stuff. A woman walked by, obviously dressed for New Year's revelry. Black skinny jeans in stiletto books, long black coat, curled and highlighted hair, make up, and probably a size 4 at the most. "I wish I looked like that sometimes," I said. "You and me both," Tom said.
Suddenly fitting into a size 10 didn't feel as hot as it had before. Suddenly I felt every wrinkle and gray hair and stretch mark I have. Suddenly I felt as though maybe my age wasn't an accomplishment so much as an embarrassment. Suddenly I wondered if I might not be one of those women who wake up one day in stained sweats (check), with 6 inch gray roots (check), a life full of mundane chores (check), their only source of pride their own ability to pretreat and remove stains (check), with a husband who's run off with a newer and shinier version of herself. Is divorce the only box of middle-aged cliche I haven't checked? Am I doomed to check that box?
Someone is married to Doris Roberts. Someone was married to Jessica Tandy. Susan Sarandon is single. Courtney Cox is separated. Eva Longoria and Sandra Bullock have been cheated on. So it would seem that growing old gracefully, naturally, without screaming and kicking and running off to be dyed and botoxed, would make one into the sort of timeless beauty and source of stability a man would want to spend their life with. But maybe not, because somewhere in Clinton, Ia right now is a hungover woman who wears stiletto boots and size 4 skinny jeans, and my husband "wouldn't kick her out of bed for eating crackers."