I’ve been thinking about aging lately. Maybe by “lately” I mean “since this morning, when the bright sunlight shining through my bathroom window made me recoil hissing from the mirror like those gross projectile penis-tongue vampires in The Strain,” but anyway I’ve been noticing that in addition to the usual aging suspects — wrinkles, generalized bagginess, and the magical ability to gain ten pounds in one sitting — I have all these weird things going on since I turned 40.

For instance:

• Ridged nails. I read that as you age your nails start losing their ability to retain moisture, which atrophies areas of the “nail matrix” resulting in “longitudinal ridging.” That is some bullshit right there. I mean, I know in the grand scheme of health problems this doesn’t exactly register, but … well, it’s still bullshit. I have wrinkles on my fingernails, you guys.

• Random skin things. I developed this mole-thing on my leg that was a total outlier compared to other moles and I got all scared and went to the dermatologist convinced she was going to tell me it was skin cancer and she was basically like, “Oh, that’s a (term I’ve since forgotten). These can be common as you get older.” Just … yeah, sorry, you’re going to have some lumpy unattractive bullshit here and there, and we could dig it out but it’ll be a bitch since those things run deep so maybe just get used to the new you.

• Inability to sit for extended periods of time. I had my hair colored on Monday and I verified something I’ve been suspecting for a while: I can no longer truly enjoy lengthy salon visits, because sitting for that long in a chair makes my ass and legs fall asleep. BULL. SHIT.

• Face-creases that last all day. You know when you sleep on a pillow crease and you get a line in your cheek? Well, my bullshit pillow-dents now last for hours on end so I look like Inigo fucking Montoya.

• A visible vein that runs vertically down my forehead, connecting the top of my head to the frown-lines between my eyebrows. This is the biggest pile of bullshit of all, because not only do the ever-deepening “elevens” on my forehead make me look like I’m perpetually pissed off about something, the GIANT BLUE VEIN makes it seem like I’m about to have a goddamned stroke from sheer rage. It’s particularly noticeable when I’m laughing, which makes for some attractive photos. My only solace for this new and unwanted development is that Angelina Jolie has one too, so maybe it will eventually become a hot fashion trend and people will start injecting their heads with tinted saline and I’ll be all Hipster Ariel about it, like my forehead looked creepy FIRST.

Meanwhile, my husband’s charming eye-creases and silvering beard pretty much make him look like he just stepped out of a Clint Eastwood movie. So, so, so much bullshit.

In Ann Patchett’s This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage she writes about deliberately exposing herself to poison ivy in order to leave summer camp: “Like virgins to a volcano, we threw ourselves in. We rolled in it. We picked it. We rubbed it in our hair and stuffed it in our shirts and ground it into our eyes. Reader, we ate it. (…) We turned to a plant as Juliet had turned to a plant before us: to transport ourselves out of a difficult situation.”

When I was in outdoor school — a weeklong camp Corvallis middle schoolers were sent to — I did something similar. It wasn’t to escape, and I wasn’t nearly so thorough in subjecting myself to a known irritant, but I remember that as soon as we were taught about poison oak I rubbed it on my arm. I guess I was just curious about what would happen, although the rashy, itchy results were, in retrospect, boringly predictable.

I’ve successfully avoided poison oak ever since, even when hiking the Rogue where it lurks around every bend in the trail and continually readies its shiny-leafed embrace for your one misstep. But I have for some reason thought of that decades-ago decision many times over. I can’t think of another instance when I’ve done something quite that foolish in quite the same way, but the ease in which the choice was made has never fully left my mind. It’s part of the reason I shrink away from the edges of towering dropoffs: my brain instantly thinks, wouldn’t it be terrifyingly simple just to step forward instead? It’s not that I want to fall. It’s that I can’t stop imagining the little effort it would take to do so.

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