I’m accommodationally bifurcated these days, dividing my time between My Country House (aka The BF’s spacious and bucolic Actual House with Lawn, Patio & Dog) and my bachelorette pad (aka Rent Control Central, “Colleen’s Stubborn Handhold on Freedom,” or, during certain parts of summer, “The E-Z-Bake Oven”), so I can’t tell you how long ago my previous passport expired.
So let me just repeat: my previous passport expired.
In my 36 years of international travel, this has never happened. Never ever ever ever never. Not. Ever. And I’m horrifically embarrassed about it having happened this time, one or possibly even two years ago, extenuating circumstances* or not. Because in my family, no matter what, you had a passport at the ready, even if you had zero intention of traveling for the foreseeable future.**
The truth is this: every time I looked in the mirror over the past two years, I recoiled a little. I may joke about being a ladygeezer or (not) going gray or fettering certain protrusions that were heretofore unfettered, but a part of me always hurt a little bit. I’m not crazy about my eyes starting to get that tired look or my hair thinning or the weight that now gently encases my middle, and so far, I’ve been dealing with them all by compartmentalizing and ignoring or leading with a joke: the latter in public, the former in private.
I’m not fishing for compliments (although hey, I won’t reject sincere ones if you’re compelled). This is not about anyone saying, “Hey, you look great!” or even “Hey, you look great for your age!” It’s me, dealing with mortality (which we all must) and advancing invisibility (which most of us must, although women, even character actresses, deal with it first).
I’d think about getting my passport photo taken, the first step in crossing “Renew (expired) passport” off my list, and then I’d think, “Well, I’ll just wait until…”
Until my hair was freshly colored.
Until my hair was having a good day.
Until I’d figured out an outfit, and bought some makeup, and had had enough sleep.
Until, that is, monkeys flew out of my ass. In formation. Typing Shakespeare.
I’m almost 48. My hair will never be the hair of a 28-year-old, or even a 38-year-old, again. I haven’t worn makeup (well, excepting a little eyebrow powder, for definition!) since I quit acting, three years ago. I try to be interested enough about clothes to shop for them, but I’d rather write. I try to think about parting with Big Bucks for the clothes I would love, but I would rather blow the money on hardware and books. I will have fewer and fewer Good Hair Days until I am rich enough to hire a stylist and patient enough to let him do my hair everyday.
In other words, this is me now; this is who I am, inside and out. It’s not just okay, it’s the truth.
I promised you my big secret for actually crossing stuff off your list, and here it is:
Get down with where you are right now. Get down with the thing that needs to happen next.
I want to go to Vancouver to see my friend, Danielle, and maybe do a workshop. I want to go to Spain some summer while my friend, Jared, is doing his month abroad. I want to drink wine with Valeria in her native Italy, and visit my grammar school friend who lives in the countryside while I’m there. I don’t necessarily want to be my delightful friend, Chris Guillebeau (he’s filling that job rather handily), but I would find it great fun to schedule a trip sometime to coincide with one he was making. I want to stay with my high school friend, Betsy, at her palatial estate in France (oh, BOY, do I want that) and visit my friend, Michael, in Germany, and travel with my friend, Andrew, and his wife, Alex, to his native Ireland (which, if it’s as full of awesome Irish folk as their dinner parties are, may be my final resting place as I expire from happiness.)
Mostly, I want to be able to say “yes” when someone invites me to come and speak or teach or otherwise share what I know when they ask. This, finally, was the truth that was more important than the silly fibs I was wasting away my days with.
Life is so short and filled with so many things to do.
And so I go, go, go about doing them…
Photo of Colleen Wainwright by Lily at the Mailbox Shoppe via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license. (For more silly fun, click on the picture.)
*Circumstances including, but not limited to falling ill with a major chronic intestinal disorder, starting a new business, traveling extensively continentally for tradeshows/conferences/etc., massive economic collapse and, this one is the hardest, embarrassment of being ambassador to a country whose leadership and choice of same deeply shamed me for eight years.
**Possibly a Jewish thing, possibly an aspirational-cosmopolitan-type thing. Not sure. Maybe both.