I don't think of myself as a vain person. Or, I should say, I don't want you to think I'm vain. I would like for you to think I move effortlessly through life without a second thought to my hair, skin, clothes, or butt. I don't want to invite you into the hour or so before I leave the house. The time when I scrutinize a new line by my eyes, or give my stomach the stink eye as it tries to escape the confines of my mid-rise jeans, or play hide, seek and destroy with a stray gray hair.
I want you to think that at 38 (almost 39) I care not a bit for the number of years that make up my age. I want you to think that I remember to be grateful every day for each of those years. But sometimes I forget. And I usually forget right before I leave to go somewhere - a meeting, lunch date, girl's night, a date. I look in the mirror. Or accidentally look at a supermodel. Or look at my wedding picture - all chubby cheeked and bright-eyed.
And the realization that I am almost forty comes crashing down.
Sally: AND, I'm gonna be forty.
Harry: In eight years.
Sally: But it's there. It's just sitting there, like some big dead end.
When Harry Met Sally was released, this particular scene made me laugh. And the idea of Sally turning 40, ridiculous. It seemed so old, so far, far away.
Now here I am. A slowly returning to work stay-at-home mom, great husband, lovely kids, family dog.
And I'm gonna be forty.
In 1 year and 98 days, to be exact.
And so, as the years transform my features into that of say, a hmm, a more mature woman, I have grown a wee bit vain. I'm trying moisturizers that promise my skin a chance to reclaim the elasticity of its youth, make-up convinced it will hide age spots, wrinkles and sun damage, tweezers on a combat mission to seek and destroy a rogue chin hair, and bras that keep the girls north of the equator.
So when I leave the house, I have done everything in my power to battle the wisdom of the years that stubbornly insist on showing themselves on my face. I leave the house content that I am moisturized to the point where my fine lines are perhaps blending in with the rest of my skin, and the age spots have been bleached enough to look like alluring beauty marks.
Why am I telling you all this? Because honesty is good for the soul and humble pie is good for fine lines.
And also because on a cold night in December I was reminded that while I may feel as though I am a woman who cares not for appearances, I in fact, do.
On this particular evening I had taken great care to dress for a dinner out with my sister and a couple of friends at a wine bar in Denver. We took the Light Rail down and had a great evening, telling stories, sampling wine and laughing. On our return trip, a couple of Light Rail employees jumped on, standing opposite from us.
As the train approached our stop, Jen and I stood up preparing to leave. As we did, one of the Light Rail guys steps forward and says,
"Ladies, I hope this isn't inappropriate to say...."
My ears perk up. Inappropriate, huh? Well, I did work out that morning. And Jen, well she looks beautiful all the time. I'm married, of course, and it would be inappropriate if he found me sexy, or alluring or younger than I am, or something like that. That would be so inappropriate. But at the same time, all those beauty products are really expensive. Maybe with this inappropriate comment I'll finally get my money's worth.
Jen and I glance warily at each other then turn back to the guy who is about to say such an inappropriate comment that he had to preface it by indicating how inappropriate it is. We wait expectantly.
"I just wanted to tell you ladies that you look well put together."
Oh. Wow. Okay. Well. Put. Together. Like when you match your shoes to your purse kinda well put together? Or when your couch pillows bring out a subtle color in the floor rug well put together? Or when you make a sandwich with the most perfect ingredients well put together?
I am so vain.
Jen and I smiled, said thanks, then quickly left the light rail before he could say any more inappropriate comments. We walked to the car arm in arm, laughing, smile lines and all, enjoying every bite of our humble pie.
And so, I'm gonna be 40. Soon. But damn it, I'm charging into my 40's as a well put together lady.