Vanishing Youth

by Robin Munson

Vanishing Youth

The other day, for the first time in a couple of years, I took out our wedding album and leafed through the pictures. There was the happy, handsome groom and the smiling, pretty bride. We were years younger then. Time goes by so quickly, sometimes it seems it’s just a blur:


What happened?

It’s not that we don’t fight tooth and nail to stay young, we do. (Well, maybe not tooth, but definitely nail). We do all the things expected of our Baby Boom demographic. We eat healthfully, exercise, stay active both physically and mentally and get great haircuts. We dutifully dress in jeans and t-shirts, even when we go out to dinner. (Which, by the way, we almost never do anymore!) I color my hair and I’m not ashamed to say so. We wear sunscreen. We moisturize. And yet.

I look through those pictures, and there is a distinct difference between my face then and my face now. There’s no getting around it: Youth is leaving me. I feel like I’m chasing my youth through a dense forest, running faster and faster to catch up, but the harder I run, the faster it goes. I don’t know how long it will be before I run out of breath or determination and accept that it has gone and gone for good. Some would say, “Never! Never give up! Never give in!”. I wonder, are they right?

Living in Southern California, as I do, I also have to wonder – Is it youth I’m chasing, or is it vanity? And if I could have youth back, would I want it? I mean, youth is not all about having smooth skin and taut muscles. It’s also about believing in your immortality and taking foolish risks. It’s also about not having enough money for rent and food. It’s also about being concerned with things that no longer concern me, like fashion. It’s also about taking too much for granted that is precious, like friends. It’s also about being a slave to your hormones. Do I want all that? Hard NO on that!

Another part of youth is being interested, involved and active. Can I do that without actually being young? Yes, of course. But there is a natural slowing of the body over time. Maybe I don’t have to run. Maybe I can just do a brisk walk. That’s okay with me. (I never liked running anyway). But does there ever come a time when even a walk can be too much? And will that time come for me?

Now, let’s get back to the smooth skin and taut muscles part. Well, I woke up this morning and caught a glimpse of something that I had never noticed before. There was a large, purplish area on my calf. I couldn’t figure out what it was. A bruise? A spider bite? Some weird kind of tumor? My husband looked at it and calmly announced that it was spider veins. And he added, “I remember when my Mom got those – She was really upset.” In other words, this is a natural result of age. Nowadays they can remove these things.

Then I’m faced with a decision. Should I or should I not have the spider veins removed? Do I want to spend the money on having these removed when others will probably pop up on my other leg tomorrow? Or should I just replace all my shorts with slacks and resign myself to schvitz in the hot weather? Where does the blood go if the little veins aren’t there anymore to carry it along? What does it cost to have spider veins removed? And how much do I want to invest in chasing down my youth, anyway? I’m not an actress, so who really cares besides me and. possibly, my husband? (Oh my God, I better ask him!) And do I want to add to the delusion that nobody ages here in La-La Land? (Of course I do, but to what extent?).

When do you simply bid adieu to the elusive little fox that was your youth? At what point do you resign yourself to the fact that this is just more work than you signed on for? And isn’t it the very hallmark of youth that it is never self-conscious or labored? Take a look at anyone under 30, and you will notice how remarkably relaxed they are – at least about being young. Aaah. To age gracefully. What does it really mean?

Note to Self: Ask my hairdresser about blond streaks tomorrow.

© Robin Munson

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