I’ve always known I would eventually get crow’s feet. People get older and those lines appear. I was a lifeguard for 6 years; there’s no way the sun damage I acquired would allow me to escape the inevitable wrinkles. I never used to mind the idea of them. Call them laugh lines and they even sound cute.
But yesterday I was looking at a picture of myself and suddenly noticed deep creases next to one of my eyes–only one of them because when I smile, my right eye squints much more than the left. At first I thought it bothered me mainly because it was uneven and if I had the lines on both eyes I wouldn’t care. Then, as I kept studying the photo, I realized my worry had nothing to do with the lack of symmetry (well, not nothing–my neurotic tendencies are still alive and thriving). The reason the sight of the crow’s feet disturbed me was because I’d thought I had much longer before I had to think about them.
In truth, I’m nearing 30. But in my head, when I think of myself, I’m barely past age 15. I’ve always been afraid of getting older and therefore refused to acknowledge the fact that I have been. On my last birthday, I cried for at least a half hour for absolutely no reason I could put into words, or at least into coherent sentences–if you wanted nonsensical phrases, you could have had your fill. Ever since turning 18, I’ve felt this frantic urge to stop time.
The good thing, though, was that while I may have been forced to be an adult and do adult things like get a job, live on my own, and clean the bathroom, I never looked old. I had to show my ID while trying to see an R-rated movie when I was 20. I was asked whether I was a student while buying things and applying for things at age 25. I will be carded at bars until I’m 40. While frustrating, the idea that I at least looked young was a small consolation whenever I freaked out about being old.
But with crow’s feet, I have to face the facts: I am not 15. I will most likely be getting more wrinkles. I’m experiencing the negative effects of aging without any of the accompanying positive milestones to celebrate. I’ve been trying so long to put off growing up that my body just went and did it without my permission.
And that’s scary. It means I don’t actually have any control over whether I get older. All along, I’ve sort of known that to be true, deep down. But now I have to stare that truth in the face every time I look in the mirror.
No wonder there are so many wrinkle creams out there.