This I Believe

Joanna - Walla Walla, Washington
Entered on December 7, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: family, legacy

Looking Forward to Wrinkles

The more we age, the more we experience. This is why I believe that age is beautiful.

Every Christmas before family dinner, my grandmother asks me to put blush on her wrinkled cheeks, already thoroughly decorated with dark blotches from many years of sun exposure. She always tells me at least three times to “dab on a little bit more, it makes me look more alive”. I usually think that when I’m done, she has too much on, but I have to agree that her thoroughly rosy cheeks remind of someone definitely alive, glowing from love, or cold, or excitement. The pink tinge oddly complements her papery, aged skin and I love seeing her look in the mirror and smile at her reflection because her whole face crinkles up, her wrinkles are exaggerated as she spreads her lips in an enormous grin. This is when I tell her, “Grandma, let me do your hair”. Whenever there is a special occasion, I always ask to braid her hair. She always tells me not to because she thinks it looks like a rat tail, too thin and long, sparse from loss when she was pregnant with my mother and uncle. I always say this isn’t true—I think is looks elegant, a river of gray strands twisting and turning a mix of silver and white, running down her back, knotted at the end with a black elastic.

In reality, I love not just the discoloration in her hair or the deep valleys and high peaks that make up the crow’s feet at the corners of her eyes. To me, the physical representations of aging in a human being can be the most beautiful thing in the world—simply because of what they symbolize. Someone’s life story. My grandmother’s life story. Everything she has witnessed, loved, lost, endured, taken joy in. Everything she has learned, even everything she has forgotten. Every little bit of her life has contributed to who she is and the way she looks now—she will always be beautiful because she is everything that makes herself, herself.

I believe that youth is beautiful because of the opportunity it represents: we are capable of anything in our youth. I believe that age is beautiful because it represents what was done with those opportunities, the decisions we have made, what we have done with our time here on earth. I look forward to old age. I will revel in it. You will never catch me with a bottle of dye in my hand, an anti-wrinkle cream on my dresser. Why hide something so beautiful? This I believe.