I just finished reading Nora Ephron’s I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts About Being A Woman. There were sections that made me laugh and others that made me incredibly melancholy about aging. First, of few of my favorite lines:
One of my biggest regrets–bigger even than not buying the apartment on East Seventy-Fifth Street, bigger even than my worst romantic catastrophe–is that I didn’t spend my youth staring lovingly at my neck. It never crossed my mind to be grateful for it.
Reading is grist. Reading is bliss. But my ability to pick something up and read it–which has gone unchecked all my life up until now is entirely dependent on the whereabouts of my new reading glasses. I look around. Why aren’t they in this room? I bought six pair of them last week on sale and sprinkled them throughout the house yet none of them is visible.
Oh how I regret not wearing a bikini the entire year I was twenty-six. If anyone young is reading this, go, right this minute, put on a bikini, and don’t take it off until you’re thirty-four.
But it isn’t our day, it’s their day. We’re just hanging on. We can’t wear tank tops, we have no idea who 50 Cent is, and we don’t know how to use almost any of the functions on our cell phones.
Of course it’s true that now that I’m older, I’m wise and sage and mellow. And it’s also true that I honestly do understand just what matters in life. But guess what? It’s my neck.
There’s a great chapter on parenting in three stages. The child is born, the child is an adolescent and the child is gone. She succinctly summarizes the joy and constant feeling of ineptitude that accompanies child rearing. Made me smile. And then I read her final chapter called “Considering the Alternative” where she gets more serious. I can relate to the unknowns of:
Do you splurge or do you hoard? Do you live every day as if its your last or do you save your money on the chance you’ll live twenty more years? Is life too short or is it going to be too long?
But then she started talking about her friend dying. Her friend she told everything to. Her best friend, who was like a sister, mother, sometimes daughter. She talked about how unexpected it was and how she now thinks about her six or seven times a day and when dates roll around that had special meaning to them and how many things remind her of her friend. I wasn’t expecting her to go there in this book. I had a pit in my stomach.
I can relate to wishing I’d worn a bikini more when I really could have (and stupidly thought I couldn’t), to the increasing amount of time it takes to get ready in the morning (and still not liking the results as much as when I spent half that time 20 years ago). I can relate to changing relationships with children and not really knowing how to plan for the rest of my life. But I absolutely am not ready to deal with the death of people who are significant to me. Others I know of, and some I know well, have already had to face this inevitable moment. I’d way rather focus on my neck.