Tomorrow, my birthday / by Christina Rosalie

Tomorrow is my birthday. 29, and I think I look old this year.

You spend all your late teens and early twenties wishing you were older, and then suddenly, without realizing it you’ve slipped to the other side, where you consider getting carded a complement, and for some reason you can’t get the fact out of your head that some guy at work asked you if you were 36.

Our culture’s idealization of youth creeps in and airbrushes away all the brave, vibrant, sexy sides of aging. On a bad day I buy into that.

But the thing is, deeper down a big part of me that likes getting old. I like my crows feet and my perpetually furrowed brows, because they’re a testament to the life I’ve lived. It’s been wild, and sometimes heartbreaking, it’s also been passionate and full—and I’ve barely been alive three decades.

I’ve always thought Georgia OKeefe was one of the most gorgeous women in the world, especially in her later portraits. Something about the way she held her head---up, fiercely, with her chin forward, that spoke volumes about her courageous life and passionate arte. Also something about Tasha Tudor’s wild white hair and ruddy cheeks that spells out beauty to me: she’s a woman who does what she wants. In fact, when I think of women whose features I admire, most do not adhere to the modern, product enhanced perception of beauty. I want to look real still in thirty years, with some lines to show for it.

But tonight, on the eve of my birthday, I can’t help taking stock. Can’t help going back over a handful of self portraits I’ve taken over the past few months, looking for some outer clues about the woman I’m becoming. Maybe I do look older this year.

Driving to work by myself in the morning, as I pass the field where the frost has turned everything into a delicate filigree of white and the pale purple mountain is suddenly flooded with the first golden light of the sun, I’m utterly grateful. Grateful for these hands with wrinkles finely cross-hatching the backs. Grateful for soft expanse of my belly that gave birth. Grateful for my brilliance of my heart and mind that rush up inside my soul like the wild circling flight of the lone hawk I watched this morning, above the snow covered meadow, with the sun turning it’s wings to fire.

And if the consequence of this giddy passion for life is aging, I’ll take it, crows feet and all.