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Sophie Tarnowska Headshot

Learning to Love My Aging Face

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Tonight I got sucked into the Facebook vortex, looking at the admittedly obscene amount of pictures I have collected and taken over the years.

And I thought: wow, I looked so young.

And then: wow, I look so much older. And I do.

There are wrinkles in the corners of my eyes and lines framing my smile that weren't there even two years ago. It's like looking at pictures of those kids who were kidnapped and whose sketches of what they should look like today appear on your mail, 6 years later. So this is how I turned out.

Don't worry, you have them too, dear friends who have put up with me all these years. But your wrinkles suit you. And I hope that I've made you laugh hard enough to have contributed to them in some way, just as I know you have to mine.

Isn't it strange that we stare at our own faces so many times a day -- brushing our teeth, on the way out the door, in the rear view mirror -- and yet we're often oblivious to ourselves. Until a picture slaps us in the heart with it's unforgiving chiaroscuro hitting the planes of our faces just so.

I have aged in leaps, in these moments of mini-recognition.

In my best moments, I know that these lines are life's victory march across my face. The hieroglyphics of emotion drawn across my body, traces of my greatest heartbreaks, my fears, my laughing so hard I might have peed, a little.

But they look better on others.

Midway through this life of mine (I hope), I can choose how to deepen these lines. I will try -- I am trying -- to drag them upwards with my joys, and not let them settle down like gravity, to pull me faster into frowns. I'll make these crows feet worth it dammit.

Today I look like an adult. A woman, not a girl. I've cried and screamed and laughed, I've stayed up too late and woken up too early. And every line I see on my face is part of my body's inheritance of those moments, a coded transcript of it all.

I don't want to be like those old people who wear lines of sadness on their faces even when they don't mean to. So I'll continue to cross my eyes and make silly faces at the camera the way an almost-40 year old shouldn't.

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