“Phoren, I’ve got a funny story to tell you.  I saw my ex-wife the other day.  She still looks good, but she’s, you know… a middle-age woman now…”

I’m having dinner with my best friend from the 90’s.  We haven’t seen each other in four or five years and that’s probably the third time he’s used the term “middle-age woman” in the last 45-minutes.  It’s as if he’s describing someone who hasn’t bathed in six months or gained 700 pounds – as if middle age is something to be avoided like crack addiction or an incurable venereal disease. 

I wanted to see him.  I’ve grown weary of my current friends who, as we grow older, pretend like they’re living out their twilight years – “Oh, you don’t understand what goes on with the high-school kids these days.  It’s not like when we were young”, “Yawn….I can’t eat dinner after 8 pm!  I’m in bed by 9!”

I’ve been looking forward to spending time with someone who seems to have straddled the line – staying “current” even as we move into what I would call “serious adulthood”.  This, however, is not what I was expecting.  To him, any woman over 35 is like potato salad that been sitting in the sun too long – ready for the trashcan.

“Of course, not you, Phoren.  You look great (said with less than 100% conviction).”

I stare at him across the table, focusing on his Botoxed brow and hair implants, playing mental connect the dots with the brown spots  on his face from too much tanning bed.  I catch a glimpse of his diamond-studded Rolex (I’ll give him the benefit that’s it’s real) and I realize – no, this isn’t what I’m looking for either. 

Is this where I’ve been relegated – an equal with room temperature mayonnaise, day old bread and yesterday’s news – the only other option to fake it with “cosmeceuticals” and plastic surgery?  Can’t we just “be” as we are now, instead of hurling ourselves toward old age or clawing our way back to years past?    I have no desire to live like I’m still in my 20’s, but I’m also far away from beginning the descent. 

Where are my contemporaries?

Youth’s Twilight

“In his face, age descends on youth, exaggeration on the truth. He caught me looking then, but soon his eyes forgot.”

Ode to Boy, Yaz

Your photo peers at me and I cannot help staring back.  I recognize this person, and yet this is not the face that I’ve known.  The skin upon your cheek is unchanged – I know its texture.  I recall its scent.  The lines around your eyes are surreal to me.  I cannot believe they exist.  Not faint, but strong and deep.  I want to steal an hour, unhindered, to stroke my fingertips across your temples, to intimately examine these signs of age for myself.  Perhaps while you are sleeping. I want to bury my fingers in the grey that grows just past these furrows and convince myself it’s real. Yes, time has passed and we have aged, but before this moment, it has been abstraction and not reality.  You are still beautiful, but you are no longer the boy I knew.