Seeing Age

Sometimes this strange thing happens to me where I can see someone’s future before me; the contours of their face deepen and turn. Age reveals strange parts of a person’s countenance. My friend’s mother was a tall, foreboding woman with those things that I imagine we admire an elegant woman; a certain grace, an edge, taste and certainty. Sharp features, short red hair, and a sober style of dress is how I see her now. I wonder if these things are shaped into habit before we know it—they must be.

Her name was Jenny; she’s known as Jen now. She made partner in her law firm. I remember only her expectations for us as children. I moved before puberty really took hold but if I go back and think of it now, she was sexy. She did not wear revealing outfits, nor was her body intensely watchable, but those elements of grace that were mentioned before lent our pre-pubescent caution around a deeper respect—the kind of respect that borders on fear. I have always tried for sophistication; generally unsuccessfully. Money did not come easy to my family and ease with it has not come to me. Those seeming un self aware elegances then are truly fascinating to me.

There’s a girl at my school who mirrors these qualities. She too is tall, red headed, and blessed with a self-confidence and quietness that makes men and women take notice of her movements and respect her opinions. I wonder how she commands that; has it always been that way for her? I haven’t spoken to her many times, but when I look in her eyes, I wonder if she can see her years spun-out in front of her. I can. She adventures well—trips to Europe, calm in front of bleeding children and an icy resolve in marital struggles. She earns very few wrinkles, and her skin ages like fine paper. I wonder whether she will divorce her husband—I tend to think not. I imagine her satisfaction and ease will continue through life. Or at least I hope so.

From what I know of life few people walk without their feet sticking in the clay. But some—some just manage to show it like they walk cleanly. Sometimes I wonder whether all the things I’ve lived are seen around my eyes; who am I at 40? But I cannot look and let the details fade away and see my own face grow and change. That odd habit is left to me to see in others. I envy her; Katie and this girl now. I hope those things I see in her continue to serve her. They seem of the type that bend but do not break, and keep a singleness in purpose and drive alive within them. They should teach me.