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?

Trying dieting

I’ve never been the person watching what she ate, until I came to Spain. Then it was simple: overdose on protein and stay away from sugar and caffeine. Until I got back from the States this fall and my blood test revealed shocking cholesterol numbers. 

Genetics? Yes. Well, partly. Also, my love affair with cheese. After visiting France a couple of years ago, I thought it would be nice for God to call me to a country where one can eat a different kind of cheese every day of the year. Now I’m thankful I’m in Spain, where cheeses are outstanding, but numbered. 

The doctor gave me a “to eat and not to eat” list. I did my own research, plugged a basic menu into a nutrition calculator and stuck to it for the most part. I’ve been eating well, make no mistake, but food prep takes longer than it used to. Plus, I spent a couple of months enduring my roommates snickers when I weighed almost everything I ate. I also had to endure my sister’s judgment when I feasted on a rosy salmon fillet, roasted brussel sprouts, rye crackers with homemade hummus, with a mango and 85% chocolate for dessert. 

I love baking. I would probably bake every day if it weren’t for the piles of dishes. Or the piles of sweets. When I had a roommate, it was easier to dispose of my leftover baked goods. Granted, she was not always pleased to see another plateful of a sugary something with an attached note: “EAT!” 

Honestly, I am a healthy eater by discipline, not naturally. If you’re going to trip me up, set out a cracker variety and a luscious cheeseball, chips and salsa, or just mounds of greasy potato chips. I don’t even like bread, but once and a while, I pig out on bread, especially if it’s loaded with heart-stopping slabs of cold butter.  It hasn’t been all that long ago since I ate an entire bag of chips in one day. Or one day, I was walking down the street and smelled hot dogs. Hot dogs! And I could taste them, roasted over a fire, overloaded with tangy mustard and a heap of shredded cheddar. I admitted this craving to my roommate who, after watching me carefully blend kale smoothies, was amused. Rightfully so. 

For us first-worlders, food, like so many other things in life, is a choice. What we choose today may affect our tomorrow. 

Do you have a food plan? What do you do? Do you make allowances or take days off? Wedge in a bit of space for that mousse au chocolat? Speaking of which…


Photo by Cody Pulliam on Unsplash

Hungry or not, here I come

How exactly does a one hour tutoring lesson turn into eight hours? Simple: I agreed to stay for lunch.

It was my first day of tutoring. I was nervous because I wasn’t sure how the protective father would view my method of teaching his 5-year-old son.

Exactly ½ hour before we had agreed to meet, the father came to pick me up.

He took me to his house where I met his family, extended family, the maid, and of course, his son. After a long conversation–some of it typed in google translate–we had breakfast (their first; my second). Then I spent exactly one hour teaching and reviewing with the little boy.

“Will you stay for lunch?”

Noting the family sitting around the salon table, I agreed. But I soon realized that I wasn’t sitting down to lunch; this was pre-lunch! After two breakfasts, I was expected to fill up on bread, cookies, and tea and then eat lunch a little while thereafter.

When we finally did get lunch around 3:00 p.m., it was several courses: a salad followed by a beef and plum dish with another salad on the side, and then a huge chicken stuffed with vermicelli noodles and resting on a bed of rice. Everything was eaten with bread.

And all of the while, if I wasn’t reaching my hand into the platter, I was being told to do so. “Eat! Eat! Please eat!” The extended family kept a calculation of how much I ate while persistently informing me that it was not enough. We finished with luscious fruits for dessert, of which I was too full to enjoy.

This story has no moral, except not to take a tutoring job if you’re on a diet!