When did 35 become old?

I remember my mom at 35. I was 15. She was young, thin, and beautiful. The eating disorders and decades of abuse hadn’t taken their toll yet. Looking in the mirror now, as I use an anti-aging cloth to cleanse my face and replace the makeup with moisturizer, I see my mom’s clear, youthful face at 35 and think how old I have become.

It happened gradually, without my notice. One day I looked in the mirror and somehow, the face looking back was so much older than I remembered being. This face full of wrinkles and worry, this was not the face of my mother at 35. How did I become so much older than she ever was?

I remember my mother at 35, buying that Avon anti-wrinkle serum. I remember thinking she was crazy when I heard her complain to her sister on the phone about the wrinkles the same day she’d been carded for her pack-a-day habbit.

As I check in on my sleeping boy I feel creaks and cracks of life creeping into my bones. I wonder if he heard them. When did my body decide 35 was old age? My mom’s body never creaked when she stood up. Why didn’t I get the youthful gene?

I trace the lines I cannot bring myself to regret. The lines of laughter I refuse to give up and smiles getting me through the rough weeks. Even the canyon result of the worry line developed between my brows cannot be wished away. I am somehow stronger for it.

I remember my mom at 35, so much younger than I with so much less laugh lines. Perhaps joy is the cost of the youthful gene.

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