Most of the time, I wander around entirely unaware of my age.
Okay, so of course I know how old I am – I’m not senile yet – but mostly I put myself in a vague age bracket that could be denominated “middle-aged”, with a mental qualification that I am of course still a very young middle-aged person. Young enough to take up martial arts, should I want to. Young enough not to need glasses. (Should rephrase that; stubborn enough not to use glasses) Young enough to still be able to achieve that gorgeous body to which a black sheath dress would cling like gift wrapping, showing off impressive curves, long lines of muscle and a VERY flat tummy. Hmm.
Now and then I’ve toyed with the idea of training for a triathlon – I’m still young enough to do so, I reckon. Leaving aside the fact that this triathlon thing is more grounded in a deep admiration for the people who are masochistic enough to put themselves through SO much pain, I also ignore the fact that I have never run further than 5 km in my life – and if we’re going to be honest, that was a looong time ago. Yesterday, I experienced a most unwelcome moment of truth when I came to face with one of my colleagues who does triathlon for real. I looked at him, I looked at me. I looked at him again. And again. I peeked at myself. Oh dear. Where my colleague is lean, fit and had a sunburned look to him, testament no doubt to the endless hours he’s spent jogging far more than a measly 5 km, I am… pleasingly round – at least compared to him. Suddenly, triathlon has fallen off my list of “could do” things – how fortunate I have such a long list.
It’s not that I’m particularly worried about growing old. Nor am I all that bothered about wrinkles, grey hair and all that. BUT. Major but. I don’t like the idea of dying – not when i have so much left to do! That, people, is the rather unwelcome realisation that strikes me now and then, namely that the number of years ahead of me are fewer than the ones behind me, and while I have ticked off a lot of items on that mental list of mine, there are so many things left. Like riding through Paris in a sports car with the warm wind in my hair, to mention one.
Despite minor hitches such as running into horribly fit triathlon people, I am generally quite successful in my little self-delusion – i.e. I still consider the world to be my particular oyster, with an infinite amount of time at my disposal to properly explore it. I work out, I bounce up the stairs at work (there’s a couple of flights in the middle that leave me near on dead, but boy do I make sure i come up at the top looking totally unaffected), I smile encouragingly at older women who hasten over the street, and it strikes me only as I reach the other side that they’ve been giving me a similar, encouraging smile. This causes me to start considering the label “older woman”, but after a couple of minutes of mulling this over, I relax, feeling my shoulders drop a couple of centimetres. I do not qualify as an older woman, I have all my teeth, not a strand of grey, and if we’re going to be quite honest very few wrinkles (one of the benefits of being on the plump side. Nicely plump, mind you) Plus, I am far too young. Absolutely far too young.
Actually, come to think of it, I should probably do that triathlon thing. For young, strong women like me, the sky is the limit, right? Right? Right? Now why do I only get a compact silence in reply?