Saturday, February 14, 2009

St. Valentine Lost His Head

It's turning out to be a pretty decent day on the 14th floor. The sun is peeking through the clouds and the dusting of snow is melting. Runners are running. Bikers are biking. Off in the distance to the east, the sun is giving the lake that aqua color that it gets often in the summer. The National Weather Service tells us that it is currently 32.2 degrees in Streeterville. Haven't been out in the Mini today.

I have been out, however. I had a really nasty head cold earlier in the week. Babs has it now. I went out for muffins and scones for breakfast earlier. I took the dry cleaning to the Korean lady and picked up the newly laundered and cleaned clothes. It's a little bit blustery and okay, I admit it, February like out there. The sun raises your spirits, though.

Today is Valentine's Day and it brings with it all of that baggage about letting the one you love know how you feel and often creates depression in those who are not in a relationship. I read somewhere that the Romans had a pagan holiday celebrating love and such on February 15. When the Empire became Christianized the Christians started dismantling the old pagan holidays and the pagans became annoyed that all of their holidays were disappearing. February 14 was the anniversary of the day St. Valentine was beheaded, during the old persecution of Christians days, so it became a replacement for the old pagan festival one day later. Easter with its egg and bunny rabbit symbols and Christmas with its Germanic trees and remarkable proximity to the Winter Solstice, well they have their own stories.

At any rate I have been thinking a lot about aging recently and Valentine's Day brings on the thought process even further. Babs says she still finds me attractive, and that's important, but hey she's lived with me for over 20 years and the day to day experience does not lend itself to careful observation of incremental change. I appreciate the sentiment, however, and I reciprocate. I do feel, though, that she looks a lot more like the hot self she was 20 years ago than I do. Ah the female form. Sigh.

I was looking in the mirror earlier this week while tying my tie before going to work. Funny, I still feel young. I don't feel dotty. I don't feel decrepit. I can still run a marathon. I still feel creative. The guy I saw in the mirror, though, looked a lot more like my grandfather than the guy with the brown hair that turned gold in the summer sun of twenty years ago.

It's funny. Twenty years ago when I was still dabbling in theater, I could walk into a room and young women would smile. Now I walk into a room and young women still smile, only now it's because I remind them of their father or grandfather. Ah Dorian Gray, where is that picture when you need it? Fountain of Youth, wherefore art thou?

Age catches up with all of us. There's no magical way around it. It's just dealing with it that becomes difficult. It never occurs to you when you're 25 or 30 that one day you'll wake up and look in the mirror and see all of those lines in your face. It never occurs to you that winter in your 20s is not all that bad or that when you're in your 50s and all of the last trace of summer color has gone from your face, the gray and white hair on top of your head accent the lack of color in your face and you look somehow less healthy, pallid and old.

It's then that you realize that the person you've spent the last 20 something years with really loves and cares about you. They know you for the person you really are, were, and someday will be. It's all just a part of the continuum of self, everchanging, never static. They could care less about the old fart in the mirror. It's then that you realize how much you care for that other person, despite any gray creeping into the hair, and you realize that care means that at age 80 you'll still be telling her, "You still look as lovely as the day I met you."

The thing is, when Babs looks in the mirror, I haven't a clue what she sees. When I look at her, I see a woman who I've lived with since 1985, and all of what those 23, almost 24 years mean, and that's beautiful to me. I'm not talking about inner beauty here either. Maybe love does something to your eyeballs. I still think Babs is as hot, in a grownup way as she was when I met her, maybe moreso. I just hope she feels the same way about the old fart I see in the mirror.

Happy Valentine's Day Babs. And for the rest of you out there, the lesson here is that love keeps you young inwardly, if not outwardly. It keeps the object of your love young forever. It somehow transcends aging and as Babs told me when I complained about the old fart in the mirror, "Well don't look in the mirror." Not sure that's a solution, but it works for now. I'm feeling young enough to kiss that beautiful girl I love and go run 5 or 6 miles.

1 comment:

  1. awww. What's going on with me. Maria's book trailer on Iowa made me choke up, and now this. I'm not the stoic I thought I was. And you, my dear old fart, are the love of my life, still. (and bless you for still loving my flabby, er I mean athletic, thighs)