Friday, July 17, 2015

On Reaching the End of Another Decade #1

So here I am, sitting on a cheap plastic adirondack chair, on the crumbling pad of concrete that serves as a patio in the back yard of a vacation cottage in one of the tonier areas of the Oregon coast. Apparently the owners would like renters to imagine that the shabbiness of the place elevates it to the level of "kitsch."  The little one level, lap-sided house squats on its lot along a block otherwise populated by shingled cottages with steep shake roofs, colonnaded verandas and gabled a toadstool in a forest of stately pines.  But it has no wish to fade into the background and be unnoticed, here in its old age.  In this row of younger, shapelier homes clad in trendy, weather-worn shingles of the upscale coastal resort, our little cottage is painted

Sitting here writing this, I am of course struck by what a metaphor this little house is for life and the realities thereof, on the eve of my 60th birthday.  I have to admit, I admire the pluck of this little place.  I wish I could apply some of it to my own appearance issues--the sagging face, the turkey neck, the work-worn hands, the slouching posture.  My hair has become such a disaster that I have seriously considered shaving my head and having my scalp tattooed with intricate, colorful paisleys and flowers.  

I've never been pretty...on my best days, pleasant-looking has been the highest standard to which I could aspire.  And I have been okay with that, and with enhancing my appearance with a certain flair for the dramatic that has kept me distinct from the wallflowerish background into which I would have otherwise been destined to fade.  But over the past decade or so, I've struggled to keep up with the physical changes of my aging body.  Presentable on my best days has begun inexorably sliding into cronishness.  I never minded not being beautiful...never gave it much thought, actually.  And yet, I seem to be having a rough time accepting ugliness.   Why can I not celebrate it, wear it like a badge of honor, like this dumpy little mid-century cottage in which I'll sleep the last few nights before my big 6-0, proudly sporting its peeling orange paint and crumbling concrete?

I'm pretty sure I have at least a couple more posts on this subject swimmimg around, bound to come out in the next couple of hours/days...

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