I Wish for Wrinkles

It is often the first thing I notice in the mornings, when I wake to splash water on my cheeks and prepare for the day ahead. I see it when I powder my nose in the shadowy mirrors of downstairs basements of downtown clubs I don’t pay to get into because I have breasts. I see it when I click through tagged pictures on Facebook and reflected back to me in the sunglasses of my friends on hot summer afternoons, sipping on mimosas and pretending Eggs Benedict isn’t bad for me.

It’s become part of the structure of my face, a defining feature that adds to my visual character, something that most would refer to as a flaw, but I see as beautiful: a wrinkle, quite deep for someone my age, smack dab in the middle of my forehead.

If I hold my face perfectly still and refuse to react during conversation or to concentrate while writing, it is hardly noticeable. But if you’re around me for five seconds, you’ll quickly see that I almost always have something to say, and I say it extremely animatedly. So even if I wanted to disguise my wrinkle, I’d have to try extremely hard with careful thought, and then I wouldn’t be acting like myself.

I haven’t always been fond of this crease – I used to try to clog it up with makeup, somehow convinced foundation would work like cement, filling in this hole I despised. I considered it ugly and distracting, an imprint I couldn’t erase that caught attention instead of my baby blues. I envied my friends with their flawlessly-tanned skin, without any acne scars, without even the slightest indication of aging or sagging to be found on their faces. Some of my friends are blessed by the kiss of a complexion so clear, you’d think they still had the layer of skin they were born with.

It’s easy to feel insignificant and even invisible in the presence of those who have something you want. It’s easy to compare yourself and to measure all the ways you fall short on the levels of attractiveness when put up against someone who you find alluring. I’m still guilty of entertaining self-defeating thoughts when it comes to my looks, but instead of analyzing the bar scene to see if my friend is getting more attention than I am, I’ve started reminding myself that she’s probably doing the same.

We all have insecurities and parts of our bodies and faces that we wish we could change. Even though we’re all familiar with the prevalence of PhotoShop and the fact that models in person don’t look how they appear on the ads – we all secretly wonder if we could look that way. We see the chiseled, defined bodies of celebrities who we know have the luxury of a personal trainer and dietitian to tell them what to eat and what to work out – and yet, we think we can exercise the same self-control they do, sans scary-drill-sergeant, sans certified-brownie-thief. And we all see features on our friends that we wish we had – crispy, white smiles, legs to die for, hair that always shines. But rest-assured, they see something in us that they want, too.

I’m sure my friends or strangers don’t long for my little wrinkle, but I’m also sure they don’t really notice it. Come to think of it, the only person who has ever mentioned it was Mr. P, but it was in the context of compliment during an intimate moment. Contrary to my personal belief, it isn’t the first thing others notice about me, nor something that would be a deal-breaker for a could-be mate. That wrinkle, which is only the first of many to come, is a tiny reminder of the things about me that are beautiful.

It came to be only because I chose to laugh so hard that I couldn’t control the corners of my grin. It came to be because I’ve spent endless hours thinking and writing, trying to put into words the story that’s always lived inside of me. It came to be because I decided to cry when I was sad, to express enthusiasm when I  was happy or inspired, and to verbalize anger when it couldn’t be softened.

I don’t really wish for more wrinkles and I’m not against plastic surgery within reason, but if having no fine lines means never living one hell of a fine life, then I’d rather have those memories outlined on my face for the world to see. For the world to witness all the beauty I’ve been able to find – in its people, in its challenges and joys, and especially within myself.

When I’m 80

Last night, Mr. Possibility and I attended the preview party for the new location of the Copacabana. For those of you unfamiliar with the Copa, it’s the iconic nightclub that launched the careers of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, a place frequented by performers like Frank Sinatra, and the inspiration behind Barry Manilow’s song.

Basically, ask your grandparents – or ask me.

After fourteen years of piano lessons, I developed a certain affinity for playing the greats, both classically and the songs bore from the Rat Pack. There is something romantic and beautiful about that period – where love hung on strings and was cherished instead of something we all felt entitled to. I’m sure those in the era worried about finding their match like so many do today, but at least then there was a certain innocence to relationships, and class was still in style.

I was excited about the event because I expected to be brought back to the time of the Copa dancers, to courting, and to dancing that didn’t involve grinding in spandex with bump-its in our hair. Not to my surprise, the crowd was primarily older – I was probably among the youngest in attendance. The food was incredible and bountiful, the music continuous, and the sangria refreshing – but something was missing.

Even with a new location and the same owner, the Copacabana had lost its luster.

Sure, the space was beautiful and I’m sure will attract tourists near-and-far, but that’s the problem. As I sadly reiterated my opinion to Mr. Possibility, he said, “Well, it’s not that time anymore, clubs pop up and have their ride and then they’re gone. We’re onto the next thing.” In the age of over-demand, where everything is simply a thought and a Smartphone away, we don’t grow attached to things as we used to. Even nightclubs that gave some of the best singers their humble beginnings.

Toward the end of the evening, a handful of original Copa dancers, now well over 80, graced the stage and told their story. They each held more enthusiasm individually than the current group of Copa dancers did collectively. You could see, even from far away, the love they had for the Copacabana and for New York. This place symbolized their youth, where they grew into themselves and their sexuality, where they mingled with artists who would become legends. This was part of their story; the Copa was a place that helped define them as girls, and now brightened their eyes as seasoned women.

As Mr. Possibility draped his arms around me and kissed my cheek affectionately, I looked at him and asked, “What will my story be?” I wasn’t looking for a direct answer, he knew that and didn’t give me one other than a few sweet compliments and words of encouragement, but as we walked through Times Square to another bar for some more sangria, I couldn’t get that thought out of my mind:

When I’m 80, how will I view this time in New York? Will I look back and replace all my memories of being flawed as visions of me young, healthy, and beautiful? Will Mr. Possibility be a fleeting face that I call the first man I truly cared for in New York? Will my friends, the ones that took me so long to find in this city, still be my friends then? What will I think of this blog? Or of my writing style as it is right now?

I’ve always imagined myself growing older and one day having the wisdom that only comes from experiences. I see myself still active, still pushing forward, still thinking creatively, if my body allows. Like the majority of Americans who fear being alone, I don’t want to be by myself rocking in a chair on the front porch of an old plantation house in Charleston, but I also want to make sure I have that look.

That look that those Copa dancers had. That look that says, “I’ve lived a good life. I’ve seen many wondrous things. I’ve tried things and tested my limits. I’ve explored my sexuality and what it means to be a woman. I’ve liberated myself and traveled this world and I know this city. I’ve loved and been loved. And I’m here, at my age, to show my face and my cryptic smile that’ll never reveal all of the joys I’ve had with people and places that you’ll never see again or meet.”

Daily gratitude: Today, I’m thankful for the laughs I’ve had to give me the lines that already appearing on my face.