Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Beauty in Getting Older

Katey and me and our high school graduation. We're both in head to toe vintage.

My friend, Katey, and I met at our little alternative public school in the beginning of grade eleven, when she was sixteen and I was fifteen. Like me and many of the other students there, she'd been raised by hippies, but she'd been living in California and had picked up habits like curling her hair and wearing more makeup than we were used to.

Whether by actual preference or subtle peer pressure, she soon abandoned such habits and visually fit right in to our gang of misfits: hippies' children, hippies, punks, queers, gifted kids, kids in foster care, etc. Many of us were several of these things all at once.

Her two most distinctive physical characteristics were her long golden hair, and her tiny stature. Though she's had a life long love of sweets, she didn't go over 100 pounds until the birth of her first child. Being the top student in the school, she hated blond jokes. She also hated it when people picked her up off the ground, something few of us could resist for long.

Glasses: Polo Ralph Lauren; White gold necklace: vintage; Coat and shirt: Reitmans. Katey's coat: Roxy. Her glasses: Burbury. The rest: vintage.
The other day, when we were in the park, a stranger offered to take our picture. The resulting photo called to mind a photo of us from our high school graduation. I put the two photos together and was struck by how similar they were: our posture, style choices, expressions, and mannerisms are the same.

And I also think the last 25 years have treated us pretty well! I'm not sure why, though I'm sure the hippie health food diets were raised on and continue to eat help. But women in their forties are looking pretty good these days, I think.

Bracelet: vintage gift from a street vendor.

Katie and I have fallen in and out of touch over the years but always get along swimmingly when we do see each other. We're both energetic and talkative, preferring abstract topics over the mundane.

Indeed, these are prerequisites for all of my friends, if truth be told. Why talk about the weather, when you can talk about religion and politics and gender identity?

Good genes, good diet, or whatever, we may have aged well so far, but we have aged. Looking at these photos of us, and thinking about how young we were when we first met, made me think a lot about aging.

I can see it especially in our eyes.

And, to tell you the truth, I like it.

I like the expressiveness we have now, not only in our eyes, but in our entire faces and bodies. We are not children anymore... and we're better for it.

One might even say we're better looking for it, at least in a way. Certainly, there is more power, experience, wisdom and confidence in our carriage. Maybe one wouldn't call that better looking, exactly, but there are some who would call it more attractive.

Still, when I see how my silver eyeshadow falls into my new creases, there is a little sorrow in getting older -- but only a little. I'll just have to rethink my makeup... when I even bother to wear it.

We went to one of my favourite parks, one I can no longer reach on my own. Katey being Katey, she began explaining to me the process of photosynthesis in Bull Kelp.

I told her about how my step-brother had whipped it around in the air when I was little and the end had broken off and hit me in the eye, hard.

Katey likes science. I like stories. Okay, I also like science and she also likes stories.

I love this park in part because it reminds me that I live in a seaport town with all the usual seaport activities. As this city grows and becomes more cosmopolitan, it's easy to forget that.

I also love that the park is usually virtually empty.

Obviously, though, the view is this park's main attraction for me. When I could walk well, I'd come down here when I was feeling low. I'd sit on a rock and just breathe in the view until I felt a little more connected again to the divine, whatever that is, however that is defined.


Gloves are stolen from Katey's daughter.

Boots: Ecco; Tights: Reitmans; Skirt and scarf: from the informal clothing exchange in the foyer of my building.
One can still have a conversation when here, but eye contact is rare. It's the view that draws one's eyes.

Ring: grandmother's engagement ring from 1936. I even took it to the Antiques Roadshow! I wear a little silver ring over it to be sure it doesn't fall off.
My eyes change colour in the sun. I remember being fascinated by my eye colour this fact when I was a young teen.

A skeptical face is, in my opinion, an intelligent one.

I'm not sure I've ever known Katey not to wear mascara. I gather it's a blond eyelashes thing.

Katey and I both pointed to this view up the valley as one we especially love. She said it seems to invite one into it. I said that, whenever I see it, the word "mystery" comes to me.

Ring: Birks; Clip-on earrings: vintage; Barrettes: Stylize
Of course, for me, the fun of an outfit is in the details as well as the whole. I like to mix costume jewelry with "fine" jewelry, and vintage "old lady" pieces, with the new and modern. I'll admit that I never feel quite right unless something about what I'm wearing suggests some earlier era. I guess it's my "aesthetic escapism" again.


My love of older fashions also explains my love of tweeds, especially herringbone tweeds. It makes me feel oh so Agatha Christie and rural England. I even suspect that Virginia Woolf wore them when in the country.

Brooch: vintage
It is true that orchids are more than a little suggestive of the beauty of the female anatomy. When I showed this brooch to Beau, his first question was, "Are you going to wear that... in public?!" Indeed I am, and with pride. If Georgia O'Keeffe could paint flowers as she did, I surely can wear this brooch.

Barrettes: Stylize
Yes, there are a few grey hairs in amongst the auburn. So far, though, there are only a very few, which is nice because I still haven't decided how I'll choose to deal with the grey. The feminist and Quaker in me is not sure about dying it. The vanity in me says I'll do what I need to do to feel good about myself. When it's entirely white, I think it will look good. It's the in-between stages I'm not so sure about.

And so back to the car to head home.

Katey's new vintage (and that's not an oxymoron) brooch.
But first, a trip to a second hand store, where Katey was hoping a brooch she liked was still there. It was.


Lucky for me she wanted to go there, because I found... original, rhinestone dress clips! They even still come with their original bar so I can wear them together as a brooch. I plotzed. That's Yiddish for... um... I kind of went weak with excitement. (As is typical in Yiddish, this can be used for negative emotions too.)

A sparkly day indeed.

And yes, my back hurt like hell by the time it was over.


  1. Great post! I like how you've become good with who you were and who you are now- a great way to get comfortable in your own skin.

  2. Thanks. To be perfectly honest, it's a work in progress, especially with my disability. That's a big part of why I started this blog: to learn to be comfortable with my physical being as I am now, not as I once was.