It’s my birthday. I’m 59.
This year, I’ve decided to blow up the face part of a photo a friend took of me this past New Year’s Eve, one half at a time, and post them both for all to see. So, way at the bottom of this post (and smaller, and awash in sepia tones), is the other half of the picture on the right. The wrinkled, droopy-eyed, and crooked-toothed half. I would never have done this on my 58th birthday.
I take great pains to make sure a bad picture of me never circulates past the delete button on a camera. I have always hated having my picture taken (“No look!” I would yell when I was two. “Don’t put me on Facebook!” I yell today), but I traditionally make sure I do something singular for myself on my birthday. So my gift to me this year is to get over it, already. Face it. Of course I have wrinkles. I’m practically 60.
Those of you who know me well are most likely aghast at my courage. This cannot be understated. I can be vain, and prefer to keep my fading face off the grid, and out of my mind. Obviously, it’s a sham that I’m as ageless as I am in my mind’s eye – walking around with an eternal youthful glow that doesn’t even need candlelight. But what’s the use of an imagination if not to blur lines?
But I’m also right-minded. And while a picture never lies, a picture is also all about the angle. So, for my birthday, I’m pointing my point of view on aging and all that it can do to a face as a good photographer does with a camera – towards the truth in the shot; the subtleties that underlie what is in plain sight. My truth in the shot below being: those extra-long facial fissures illustrate a lifetime of smiling. And, I’m practically 60.
In a recent article by Gina Kolata in The New York Times on a study of aging skin was this quote from scientist, Dr. Adele C. Green:
“After 55, aging’s effects on skin start to predominate.”
Translation: Unless you fill it, freeze it, or lift and tug your cheeks to the back of your head, your skin is going to pucker, furrow, fold and groove all the way to the grave.
So, at least for today, and until I have a chance to check out Retin-A, I will share my (yes, sepia-ed, but otherwise untouched) bad shot. It’s written all over my face – I’m practically 60.