Ode To An Aging Neck
I would love to tell you that I’m so evolved that I never lament lost youth. But, I’m only human, and today this human is thinking way too much about her neck. One of my very favorite authors, Nora Ephron, wrote a book called I Hate My Neck. It was a bright and funny piece about an aging woman. I love the title, because when I’ve looked in the mirror recently, I see that where gravity is most having her way with me is within the folds of my neck. Part of what used to be on my face has migrated south and landed in soft canyons, mounds and valleys.
It’s not that I haven’t thought about what it might be like to have a lift. I’ve seen some really nice work in that regard – necks that look forty-five instead of seventy. But it turns out, you can’t just do your neck. You also have to do a portion of your face to accommodate the tightened neck. So, we’re talking voluntarily being knocked out, cut, stitched and then a couple of months before you start looking like a person again. Of course there are no guarantees – some cosmetic surgery turns out better than others. Sigh – I don’t think I have nerve to go that direction, though I certainly understand women who do.
I tell myself that my neck is okay, that to date, no one has approached me to tell me that there is anything wrong with my neck or ask me if I have considered having surgery to correct the fact that my neck is old. My neck has lived sixty-nine years.
In truth, it’s not just my neck. Everything on my body is sagging in one way or another. Like many women I try to adjust and adapt. I wear scarves, turtlenecks. I use creams that promise to sculpt and lift, but never really keep those promises. Age is upon me, and my neck shows it. I really do want to love my neck. I wonder if it’s the reminder it presents when I see myself in the mirror -- the reminder that the days grow shorter and years shorter still.
That’s one of the things about getting older -- elasticity goes. The bounce back factor is not the same as it used to be. Like that wonderful old pair of pants that were so comfortable until the elastic started to go and you couldn’t keep them up anymore. But instead of my pants falling down, it’s kind of like my face is falling down. And most of it is falling onto my neck. So, I totally relate to the title of Nora Ephron’s book.
I’ve written books about aging too. I’ve written them from a position of embracing the years, finding joy and treasure in the maturation process. I believe in the positive message of aging. However, it’s a shame that all that positivity didn’t do more for the karma of my neck.
My body has changed beyond what I could have imagined. And in spite of a neck that I wish contained more collagen, I love that my body still wakes up and wants to stretch. I love that I can walk three miles every morning with my puppy and live to tell the tail, or tale of the morning adventure. I adore that my hair is silvering and that I stopped dying it a couple of years ago. I give thanks for a mind that still works well enough to sit down at my computer and write every day. And, that I can read as much as I want to. I’m immensely appreciative of friends, none of whom ever mention my neck. I love the women who want to kayak with me, drink tea with me and share all of what’s in their hearts and dreams. When I look at those things, the concern about my neck seems like a shallow why bother.
Aging has a lot of grace to it and probably the best grace of all is an ability to acknowledge how silly I can be about the process, which has humbled me in a million different ways while the universe laughs softly in my ears. Write this on my headstone: “Stephanie – a woman who loved life, but wasn’t that crazy about her neck.” Honestly there are so many other things to dream about and be grateful for, and a new neck, in spite of my whining, isn’t really on the list.
Have a good day and laugh often . . . at yourself.