Fountain of Youth

Photo Credit: Instagram @sarahpeakemua @destini_dmc @lucysteinerphotography.

If you have perused the pages of this website with any depth you have gathered by now that image means a lot to me. I fight getting old with a furor. I utilize uncomfortable and inconvenient methods for staying young-ish because I am just not yet ready to throw in the towel and start knitting, canning and wearing Christmas sweaters. It’s vanity at its worst. Still, in spite of my dedication, life often takes a jab at me anyway, just to put me in my place.

It’s my knees. They scream and moan at me every day. If knees had naggy voices, mine would say, “Oh dear God, what were you thinking walking a mile down the beach, woman?” or “Yep, this is gonna be a four-Advil day. I hope you’re happy.”

It’s my hair. It looks every bit as old as I actually am. I grieve for the old days when I whined because it took an eternity to blow dry it. (Sigh) Oh, those days are no more.

And it’s my eyes. They are tired and unfocused, handicapped and aimless without a good pair of reading glasses. READING GLASSES!

How Did I Get Here?

Sarah Jessica Parker, age 48. Instagram Queen of the World: @sarahjessicaparker.

I do it to myself. I bring emphasis to my insecurities by purposely subjecting myself to activities and situations that I know I’m too old for and I fight the gospel truths of my life. So as I was laid up in bed today with an ice pack strapped to my old cheerleading knee, reading through my bifocals, letting my hair air-dry and looking at Sarah Jessica Parker on Instagram, I compiled a list of guidelines that I am forcing myself to conform to. Doing this has been an epiphany. Writing down these admissions is acknowledging, out loud, that I know I’m just too aged for some activities. It is hard on me to accept this.

So here they are — the new parameters within which old ladies with young minds must live:

  1. My dancing days are over. Perhaps once there was a decade when I burned up a dance floor but the Running Man, the Snake, the Bird and other dances of days gone by have changed (they’ve actually gone wayyy away), and the way I look when I dance has also changed, and it’s not pretty. Trying to do new moves (I have been seen in public doing the Wobble among other things, and it wrecked my knees) with old joints only leaves the kids grossed out and me needing a lot of rest. I vow from now on to stick to the sidelines for the teacher skit routines during Homecoming and to find a nice bar stool to perch myself on for New Year’s Eve festivities. My son enthusiastically concurs.
  2. I might have picked a ridiculous car to drive. When I turned forty, I looked around at my life. Harried from a divorce and grieving from a broken heart, I wanted to feel fantastic again and that came in the form of a snazzy black Jeep with 35″ tires and a 4″ lift. The problem is, hoisting myself up into the thing looks even worse than my dancing. I am not limber anymore. I have found myself actually trying to conceal my boarding and unboarding because if I feel uncoordinated, then I most definitely must look uncoordinated. The pencil skirts and stilettos must certainly make it all the more terrible to watch but the only thing worse than climbing up into a car is falling down into one, which is my other fear. I need to get a regular lady car, a regular old lady car. Like a minivan.
  3. I need to cut off my hair. My hair! There is a reason women keep cutting their hair shorter as they get older. It starts to get really, really thin in your thirties. Who knew?  Now I know why all the people I’ve ever met over thirty have short hair. In history, going as far back as biblical days, long lustrous hair was a symbol of youth and fertility. I am neither young nor fertile. My hair is dry and frizzy and has taken on that witchy quality so often associated with crazy ladies. I have Crazy Lady hair now! I spend more time conditioning it than I do washing or brushing it. I hope one day to have the courage to go all the way — to accept my age and learn to live life recklessly and embrace my reality — without a (tiny, thin) ponytail.
  4. I am finally the owner of six pairs of glasses. Well after I turned forty, my mother’s good genes permitted me to maintain my perfect vision. I clearly remember the excitement at purchasing my first pair of designer eyeglasses, but I didn’t really need them. I was just buying a weak prescription as an accessory to my “intellectual” outfit because Sarah Palin made them look so sexy in 2008. And anyway, they were Prada. There were just certain outfits and occasions when I loved coupling a pair of librarian specs with a new skirt and pearls. Silly, I know. But then the day came about a year ago when I caught myself squinting inconveniently, making my angry brow wrinkle and causing me to fly to the mirror to see if my Botox was wearing off! And that was when I realized that glasses were no longer a novelty. Great…another jab from Mother Nature and Father Time. Now I keep reading glasses everywhere: one in each room of my house as well as in my classroom, in my purse and in my car. I am also night-blind and can hardly see to read a menu in a restaurant. Now, every outfit includes glasses whether I like it or not, rounding out the old-lady look just perfectly. Guh-reat.

    Forever a California Girl! Christie Brinkley, age 60. Instagram @christiebrinkley.

  5. Finally, I need to look to my elders for comfort. The saving grace in my own aging is looking around and seeing how many women still look absolutely stunning even past their forties and fifties. Not just celebrities either, although SJP at almost fifty and Christie Brinkley at sixty definitely give me inspiration. I know regular women, right here in my hometown, who are still sexy; they still fall under the category of *bombshell.* They still turn heads and they haven’t forgotten for one second how to be gorgeous. They inspire me. And so to them I say thank you…you don’t know I watch you, and you will never realize how much I admire you. I’m talking to you, Joyce Nichols, and to you, Lori Brannon, and to you, Jona Burklow! The old saying is true: imitation is the greatest form of flattery. So when I pass you in the grocery store or at a ballgame and I tell you how gorgeous you look, I am being sincere and I will probably try to do what you do.
You’re only as old as you feel!








About Dawn Quarles

Dawn Quarles is a high school political science and American history teacher who moonlights as a blogger and writer. She lives on Pensacola Beach, Florida.

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2 Responses to “Fountain of Youth”

  1. Lori Brannon says:

    A sincere thank you for the compliment. I’m really without words, which as you know, is rare. You’ve been my idol since you were 19 years old and taking care of me and my boys. You’ve still got it and I can’t wait to see what’s next on the horizon for you. I love you DQ. You’re the best.

  2. Joyce Nichols says:

    Your words mean more to this old girl than you know! I consider you one of the most intelligent, beautiful, sincere and forthright people I know. I like it when you know where you stand with a person – its a rare trait. I have always respected that you stand your ground. I’ve never told you that….happy to know of your blog!

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