Age: What’s In A Number?Posted: January 23, 2015
I have a good friend who doesn’t think about her age. Every year, when I call to greet her happy birthday, she asks me, half-joking, “How old am I, again?” I know her age because she is ten years older than me. She prefers to mark her years not by time but according to how old or young she feels.
In some of the reviews I’ve read of the movie Nightcrawler, actress Renee Russo is described as an aging actress. The “aging” reference really bothers me. Sure, Russo is aging. She’s sixty right now, next month she’ll turn sixty-one. Then again, aren’t we all, every one of us, aging? From the moment we are conceived we age by the second. Yet it is usually women upon whom aging gets pinned and not in a positive way.
Age is a funny number. As a young girl, I couldn’t wait to be older—old enough to drive, to date, to drink, to be considered “credible” as a news anchor, which is what I thought I wanted to be. When I moved to Hollywood after my thirtieth birthday, one director told me that he couldn’t cast me in a role I really wanted because I didn’t look old enough to play a woman my age. “If only you looked as old as you really are, you’d be perfect for the job,” he said, ushering me out the door.
This is my “magical 33” year! Thirty-three is when everything that I want will happen for me! At least, that’s what I told anyone who would listen after I celebrated that birthday. My rationale? “3” is considered by many to be a magic number, so why not hope for eleven times that at 33? Instead, that was the year my life started imploding.
After I turned forty, the amount of interest I got on Match.com waned. I considered lying about my age. I so wanted to be younger again—young enough to feel like a contender in the dating game, young enough to get pregnant without worrying about high risks and low odds, young enough that the Whole Foods checkout guy would stop calling me “Ma’am.” It wasn’t until I started embracing my real age that life began to fill up with new possibilities and opportunities.
“Line up according to age, please!” That’s the instruction given at certain all-women gatherings that I’ve attended. The eldest is always the first to go in, the youngest the last. In these circles, a woman owns her years like a number of honor. There is no shame in admitting your age. The older a woman grows, the more wisdom, experience, and power she can hold in her body. In time, each one will get her turn at the head of the procession.
A few months ago, writer Timi Yeseibo invited me and a few other women to talk about age on her blog, Lively Twist. Turns out that for each of us, whether younger or older, age is more than just a number. You can read our stories here.
What about you, what meaning have you endowed upon certain years of your life?