I have spent some time this past week amalgamating old photos on my Facebook feed. I have four laptops on the go currently, all filled with digital pics. And this of course does not include the many ancient photo albums – the real kind – also in my possession, also filled to the brim. And so, in the interest of simplifying my online existence, I have been sorting, sacrificing and saving.
It’s been an interesting journey to say the least. Looking back into my 20s, 30s and 40s I see “Vickie the Performer”, “Vickie the Mother” and “Vickie the Broadcaster”. There are a few more in there too (Lover, Daughter, Friend and Goofball) and I find all of these Vickies to be quite fascinating. Mostly because I realize that A) I did not peak in high school or my 20s – neither physically or professionally and B) when I did peak, at least physically, I was a pretty unhappy girl. I was pretty. And I was unhappy.
I was heartbroken, guilt-ridden, lonely, unfulfilled and confused.
But damn, did I ever look good! I was slim (hello Trauma Diet) and I was sexy and I was pretty. Hey, don’t take my word for it. A few days ago when I posted a slew of photos my old pal R said something like “Damn Vick, did you ever look good!”
He said “did.”
That “did” photo was from ten years ago. Man, can a lot ever change in 10 years.
I’ve gained weight, grown some gray hair, earned more wrinkles and somehow developed bags under my eyes. My face is fatter, my legs aren’t exactly show-stoppers anymore, my lips have disappeared and I have these weird brown spots, you know, like a human liver-spotted Dalmatian.
But guess what? I am no longer heartbroken, guilt-ridden, lonely, unfulfilled and confused. Okay maybe still a bit confused, and that is no doubt because I overthink everything and keep expecting that blinding flash of illumination to brighten my skies. For the record it hasn’t. But a reasonably bright glimmer has invaded my psyche and I am good with that. I am good with my journey and its present status. I am good with the life lessons I have endured and the wisdom I have incurred. (It’s all in my upcoming book, please buy it).
So why can’t I be the prettiest I’ve ever been now? Why can’t my outer package mirror my inner flowering? It’s not like there are 30 or 40 years between Current-Me and Prettiest-Me. Only 10. Ten measly fucking fairly content years, devoid of gut-wrenching despair and soul-searching torment. A decade still filled with examination and quest, yes. Just not jam-packed with agony (and the occasional moment of ecstasy).
My guess is life just doesn’t work that way. We earn our silver hair and wrinkles. But we don’t just earn them. We progress toward them every day. An undeniable and unavoidable journey. Whether happy or sad, content or still striving, we get older. And out prettiest-me days fade further and further into memory.
Well, you know, except for social media, which is delighted to remind us daily of how we USED to look.
Fair enough. Here’s what it doesn’t remind us of. How we used to feel. I mean, unless you are one of those blessed serene souls who has waltzed through life with nary a scratch or a bruise, photos will only tell a two-dimensional story.
Here’s the other thing I learned this past week, looking at all those photos. I had this smile. This “ready-for-my-photo” smile. Closed lips, controlled, very fucking pretty. It’s the very smile that is on full display in that photo of R and me, the one where he said I “looked so good.”
I have no idea what happened to that smile. It doesn’t really exist anymore. I’m not really sure where it came from and I’m not really sure where it went. It sure made for a pretty picture. I’m pretty sure it had nothing to do with me.
So here I am in this new phase of life. I suppose I could lose weight, Botox my face to the hilt, colour my own hair and wear makeup every day.
Maybe I will. Maybe I won’t.
What I WILL do is look back on that oh-so-pretty girl with fondness and nostalgia. A bit of melancholy when I remember her innate sadness. A bit of mirth at her Mona Lisa smile. A bit of envy of her killer legs.
A bit of relief that she matured into a cup-fully-full woman who is hopefully defined by the huge grin that envelops her face completely when she’s happy, fat cheeks and baggy eyes be damned.
When R posted his comment about how good I lookED, I was delighted that two of my gorgeous girlfriends replied, “SHE STILL DOES!” I know his remark was “innocent” and unintentionally hurtful. He is a good man with a huge heart and I know he meant no harm. I also acknowledge he may have been (inadvertently) uttering the truth.
The other thing I truly believe is that women get it. We get it and we support each other THROUGH it. Because IT is inevitable. We are so lucky to have come out the other side of our prettiest-ever days and still be in the game. Hopefully we now get to enjoy our contentest-ever days. Our realest-ever days. Our LUCKIEST-ever days.
Also I’d like to mention that I really like lobster mac and cheese and wine. And chocolate.
Thanks for listening.