I think I've reached another adolescence of some kind. Another bodily adolescence. It occurred to me a couple weeks ago when I made a joking comment to D that when I look in the mirror, I don't recognize the middle-aged woman looking back at me. I thought I was completely kidding--but as soon as I said it I knew it was true.
The change sneaked up on me. I swear it was only a year ago that I was lamenting still getting carded when buying wine at the grocery store! And I don't mean that as in "It seems like just yesterday..." I really was getting carded last year!
Maybe it's the short hair now. Or getting a little rounder in recent months. Or the strands of gray which seem to be proliferating. Or the laugh lines that are crinkling around my eyes. I guess it's all of those put together.
But the result is a sort of strange unfamiliarity with myself. Clothes which seemed to fit--not only size-wise, but personality-wise, too--now seem strange on me. But when I shop for new clothes, nothing hangs on me the way I expect it to. I pick up things I like on the hanger, but once I try them on...they're just not right. Who is that gazing back at me?
We recently discovered some outlets near us which have some cool clothing. Beginning my new job this July, I truly am in dire need of professional looking clothing. I'm well aware, too, that I'm in the midst of crafting my image as "professor": I don't want stodgy, or frilly, or conservative, or plain. I want something that seems to flow on me, that has flair, something that I can move comfortably in, but also something that's clearly dressed up--not casual.
Eventually I found a lovely, simple linen dress in a coral color. And another linen skirt and blouse in light blue. But my favorite purchase of the day was my hippie shirt. Here's a shot of it from the website of the store. I'm not sure it's something I could wear teaching, but it will make me happy to wear it on my days off.
In my early twenties, shortly after I got married, I was astounded to discover my body changing in ways I'd not expected. I remember commenting on it to a friend of mine who was about ten years older than me. "It's your second puberty," she told me. "No one ever talks about it. No one warns you it's going to happen. But it does!" Well, now I realize that a third one happens in your late thirties, too! Who knew?
The trick is to try and befriend this new body--even, hopefully, with more kindness than I've managed toward myself in a long time. It is truly a wonder and a mystery--living into this life and this self. I so much want to live into it with grace: roundness and wrinkles and all.