From the Blog

I Can See My Age From Here

Here’s an actual real, post, instead of a repost during NaNoWriMo. Because this actually happened.

Okay, so I’m not going to moan about getting old. I don’t feel old except I’m flabby and out of shape (which I would gladly complain about if it weren’t my own damned fault). And I wouldn’t want to go back to being “younger,” whatever age that might be. I remember being younger, maybe my twenties and even teens, and wondering if my older self would look back on my tender earnestness, my wide-eyed idealism, and scoff at all that I didn’t yet know. And sure enough, I’m older and a bit more cynical, and I wonder, when I was younger, how I had ever found all that time to worry so much about myself. I’ve ceased to to fret about such things, and I now tell my future self to fuck off.

I woke up the other morning from a glorious, restful night of sleep. It was a good, deep, dark, rock solid night. I woke up thinking, “Holy crap, that was awesome.” I don’t get those nights very often. I felt like a million bucks. I went to the restroom as I often do upon waking, and I should have looked like a Disney princess, with the sparkles, and the creamy white skin, and the birds singing merrily about my head, and the great, swoopy hair.

But no. I looked like hell. My face was puffy and swollen, my hair smashed to one side, and I was wearing the least sexy tee shirt and boy’s sweatpants possible, the kind that make me thankful that my husband could ever love me. More troubling, peering at myself in the mirror, were the deep trenches and wrinkles etched under my eyes. These were lines I didn’t normally see staring back at me in the mirror. I can fix my hair and change my clothes. But those wrinkles under my eyes were age, making its claim on my face.

The wrinkles went away as the day wore on, or at least, as my early morning balloon face calmed down, they retreated. But I know they are still there. They are lying in wait, constructing the roadmap to make my face crack, sag and melt. They appear in the morning sometimes, and they appear when I am very tired. I can see how the years are going to march across my face.

There’s not much I can goddamned do about that. So you don’t mind, future self: Fuck you. I’m not going to worry about it.

I got my hair cut a couple weeks ago, and we trimmed the last of the blond I had from earlier this year. I keep my hair short, because I’m not a Disney princess and I’ve always enjoyed my hair short. So the blond grew out over the course of this year, and now it’s finally gone. What is left is my natural color, which is a bland, mousey brown, with increasing streaks of gray.

This is the first time in years, maybe a decade, that I’ve gone my fully natural hair color. I knew I was getting gray under there, but I didn’t really color it to “look younger.” It was more an identity switch, I’d try blond, I’d try dark, I’d try red. It’s sort of fun. It costs less than therapy. And with short hair, it always felt low investment. It would grow out and change after just a few months.

So now my hair is my own color, and it’s gotten really gray over the years. I’m 38, but I started getting gray hair before I was 20. My stylist remarked, “Oh, you have nice highlights under there.” I thought it was nice of her to be so polite.

Last week, I was fixing myself up in the blue light of a hotel restroom, and caught a glimpse of that gray. It was really gray. Not just streaks, but my whole head was taking on that dark grayish tone when the white hairs start battling for supremacy with your other hair. That’s another losing battle.

But you know what? I kind of like it. I like the gray hair. I like it natural. I was almost excited to see it. I’ve rolled my eyes and complained about it, like I’m disappointed that my age is showing. But secretly, I really like it.

I’m looking forward to being my future self.


  1. Aunty Laurie says

    Awesome post Heather! Someone, (you know who) always said, ” there are perks to be had at every age, all you have to do is enjoy them!” Sounds like you don’t need that piece of advise! Heres to being the Incredible Older Woman!!!

  2. My wife, she has her the gray hair. Silvery streaks. It suits her.
    Funny thing is, she decided to color her hair as blue as she can get it, but it covers up the gray. However, the punky blue hair does suit her too.
    Life’s funny that way.
    Another way it’s funny? In 10 years you’ll realize how silly it was complaining about getting older … because you’re now really older. I can tell you this from experience.
    My insides though? Still feel 17. I both love and hate this.

  3. I have a grey streak – just like my grandma used to. I call my grey streak my ‘Mimi streak’. My cousins are envious. I like the way it swoops up and over when I use a bit of hair gel to accentuate it.

    The only thing I don’t like? The grey hairs that are coming in and NOT automatically lining up with the streak. Don’t distract from the streak, other grey hairs – you’re diluting the overall awesomeness of the streak that way.

    • Betsy, I have a streak too. It’s like a unicorn horn in the middle of my noggin. It’s how I knew I was home when I came to Oregon.

  4. I love gray hair. I can’t wait til mine grows in.

  5. Love this post! I turned 50 this year, and when I was 49 I decided to let my hair go natural. I had been coloring since age 25 so had no real idea what color my hair was. It’s a mix of brown and gray, which does look a bit like highlights. Sometimes it looks downright frosted blonde, other times gray, but I’m so digging not having to color ever 4 weeks. Such freedom, such empowerment. You go girl!

  6. I’m 35 and my wife is seven years younger. I have big gray in my beard and my wife loves them … she says that I “keep getting better looking”.
    There’s nothing wrong with getting older!

  7. Love it! That’s bold to go back to your natural hair color, I haven’t for almost a decade!

  8. i recently let mine color go too. i had it bright ass purple for a few months. because it was fun. and because it just lays on top of the hair, no bleach involved, it just gradually wears away. so, for the first time in ever, i had my natural hair color. i have tons of white and gray hairs. a major streak over my left eye, like my aunt. i love it too. i did color it for the artwalk, but will let that grow out to. so in jan i will be purple again, lol. the slow allowing of my natural color…

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