I’m not getting older, I’m getting redder

November 14, 2005

I’m 42 today. It’s a good thing. I like even numbers, and it’s the kind of number that is a pattern. That’s even better. Don’t look me up in the DSM-IV, everyone has quirks. I’m not eating paint chips–not yet.

After the kids got up early, decorated a festive birthday table, gave me fabulous, thoughtful and thrifty presents, and dashed out the door to school trying not to drop too many hints about birthday evening surprises, I went to look in the mirror. 42–there are more than 42 gray hairs on my head now. Time to cover them up again. More than 42 pounds gained and lost and gained again. The “baby fat” I lost so diligently (as in I had a baby, not I was a baby) has come back, and there’s no new addition to our family to blame this time. Well, the cats are new; maybe I’ll blame them. Forty-two stacks of papers waiting for my attention. More than 42 dreams I’ve yet to realize and maybe 42 I already have.

So much to reflect on as an old year closes the door on me, and I move to the next set of delights, expectations and experiences. Time to cover the gray hair I earned with my L’Oreal whatever number it is. I have chosen to be in touch with my inner redhead for several years now, and I hope to see myself as a spry 90-year old with flaming titian hair. I’m conflicted sometimes about covering up the gray. The Bible talks about honoring gray hair, if it’s sitting atop a wise head. It’s supposed to be a badge of honor, not something to hide under Nice and Easy. And I’m not ashamed, not really. I just want red hair. It’s a way I treat myself after years of feeling like mousy brown-haired girl. It’s my “when I’m old, I shall wear purple” stand. I do it for me.

My younger sister leaves me a message reminding me that I am old. I expect when I call her back to be regaled with a verse of “You are old, Father William, and have grown exceedingly fat.” She tells me she can’t remember it though, so I’m spared this time. I tell her something I remember from childhood, and she tells me again she can’t recall it. This is from the girl who has said to me more times than I care to recount, “Remember when you were (insert age here), and you were wearing (insert shirt and pants color here), and you said (insert rude comment made by me here)?” In the terrain of childhood, our five-year age difference is sometimes a mountain I’ve climbed that she never saw let alone summitted. But the territory we traveled together is familiar, and I know she’ll laugh at a joke I told last week that drew a blank stare from every single other person at the table.

In the comfortable sparring that siblings do, I remind her that I may be old, but she had the first gray hair (and was foolish enough to admit it to me). She repostes, “Maybe, but you started coloring your hair first.” Can’t argue with that. And I end my day where I started, wondering what my red hair says about me. I hope it says more than I’m a middle-aged woman who’s hiding behind a bottle of peroxide (or whatever toxin I’m smearing on my scalp and all over my bathroom). I hope it says the things that I really hope to be: strong, passionate, fun-loving, self-assured, unconcerned with the opinions of others, happy with this stage of my life. As the old hair color commercial used to say, “You’re not getting older, you’re getting better.” Yes. Not older, better. Better and redder.

Happy Birthday to me.

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4 Responses to “I’m not getting older, I’m getting redder”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Very unique blog you have! I’m definitely going to bookmark you! I have a discount tires site. You’ll find info on most major brands of discount tires such as Michelin, Goodyear, BF Goodrich, Cooper and more. With winter right around the corner, you can also get tire chain recommendations for your vehicle. Please visit it.
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  2. Anonymous Says:

    I myself was always a fan of the “Sooflex Baboon” hair care line.:)
    Happy Birthday
    J O


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