Aging alone

Back when I was teaching, we took a field trip to The Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. There were these cool machines with cameras that would age a photo depending on life choices. Are you a smoker? Do you spend a lot of time in the sun? And so on went the questions.

One of my junior highers got me to pose for the camera. My mistake was not taking over the controls afterwards. Having already gone through the process once, he knew all of the answers to age my photo as much as possible. He ignored my protests as the screen spun out an image of a worn out old lady who eerily resembled me.

Thanks, kid.

I remember that photo sometimes when I find a new gray hair or a neck wrinkle or an age spot I never noticed before. The realization that one is aging is hard for many people; however, as a single, I wonder if aging alone is different. Not harder, but different.

As a single, there is no togetherness in disintegration. It’s just a party of one who watches the body in the mirror stoop and droop a little more each year. A party of one who gets pitied as she grays because there go her chances to snag a husband and, if she doesn’t have children, she can’t even attribute the grays to the honorable occupation of child-rearing.

His eyelids sag and he gets an extra roll of fat at his waistline.

There is no together giggling at age creeping over two bodies become one. It is just her facing irreversible doom as she watches those creeping spider veins.

There is no one to notice that mole on his back slowly changing colors. No one to miss that tooth except him.

Those freckles that once were becoming are overcome by age spots and they’ve scattered farther than she ever imagined. Her body is no longer what it used to be. And sometimes she’s glad she doesn’t have to share it.

I read through 1 Peter recently, about beauty being internal rather than external. Because remember, these bodies were not made to last forever. Whether one is aging together or aging alone, that truth is comforting.

Now it’s your turn. I’d love to hear other perspectives. What has it been like for you to age alone, man or woman, single or widowed? Or what has it been like for you to age beside someone else? Maybe you’ve had both experiences. What are some things you’ve learned over the years?

Spanish healthcare chronicles: the chiropractor

The chiropractor was next. I never would have looked for one if I hadn’t had a shooting pain in my hip with every step I took. I tried an exercise ball and alignment exercises before I decided that maybe I should get it checked out. 

I found their office on google. The place had good reviews and seemed down to earth (more about adjustments and money than strange Eastern cures). 

The first phone call was rough. Since I was expecting a package in the mail and when my phone rang, I assumed it was the delivery man, not the chiropractor owner responding to my request for information. There were several unforgettable moments of confusion before he suggested we speak in English. 

Soon, I was on my way. Fearful. Imagining that my scoliosis had gone beyond repair and my spine would have to be fused. 

I had to hunt down an x-ray clinic in the bowels of Almeria before the chiropractor was willing to touch my spine.  I, of course, had a lot of problems, including a twisted pelvis. No wonder walking hurt. It was reversible, for the price of my firstborn. Since I didn’t have a firstborn they would accept a debit from my account. (I’m kidding about the firstborn.)

I came home, stressing over the diagnosis and trying to decide whether or not I should go ahead with the treatment plan. In the end, it occurred to me that my legs are my vehicle and vehicle upkeep is often more than what they were charging me. And besides that, I only have one back and it’s pretty irreplaceable. And besides that, my dad scared me with horror stories of how he waited too long and no longer has feeling in a few of his toes. 

I used my Christmas money. (“All I want for Christmas is a brand new back!”) But within a week, I felt much better, even if my wallet didn’t. And you know what? When I go to the chiropractor for those occasional maintenance checkups, I’m not scared anymore.

Photo by CHUTTERSNAP on Unsplash