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I joke with friends about the signs of aging (at our ripe old ages of late 20s). In fact, just yesterday, I ran into Banker, who has had to visit the chiropractor for 2 weeks because he spent one night sleeping on an ill-suited hotel bed and now can’t relieve his neck pain. [We both laughed at this.]

My most dynamic sign of this was over the winter, whilst playing in goal for an indoor soccer game. I made a distribution by over-arm throw in the first half, and realized at halftime that I had actually pulled my tricep. When did arms become relevant? I have never stretched my arms, ever, for a soccer match. I must be getting old.

That was my most dynamic sign. Until this summer. And then it started in earnest. A few months ago, my father broke out into not-so-subtle laughter while looking squarely at the side of my head as we were having a conversation. He then proceeded to pluck the offending hair from my right temple and hand it over as hard evidence. Yes, in fact I had a gray hair.

It didn’t end there. In fact, I obsessed. That evening I spent a significant period of time in front of the bathroom mirror. I stopped myself, after plucking 9 more gray hairs from my right temple, reasoning of course, that at this rate, I would have a serious bald spot very quickly.

And then I almost panicked. I have never had to color my hair a day in my life (save for the occasional green on St. Patricks day or what have you). All I could now see myself doing was spending hundreds of dollars monthly to try to save this beautiful color.

This week, it continued. They are now on the left side of my head. They are all new… since they are only a couple inches long, and not the same length as the rest of my hair. But they are taking over.

I never felt 28 to be old. In fact, most women say it is their favorite year (so far, it’s been quite lovely, I agree). And I am not panicking about ticking clocks. But should I be turning gray already? Am I now committed to a budget line item for coloring? What does this mean, this tangible sign of “maturity”?

I have no fears of aging. In fact, in certain other instances, I have certainly looked forward to it. But my struggles come, I think, from the fact that I did not picture myself gray before 30 (or even 50 for that matter). My mother did not start turning until 50 or so, and when she did, she went blonde. I guess I didn’t get that gene.

But I am turning gray. And I can’t really stop it or reverse it now. And I pretty much have to become okay with this. We all have something that will age us at some point. Hopefully it comes later. But when it does, it’s part of life. And, for what it is, I acknowledge it… and to some degree, honor it, because I can’t go back.

And now I have to stretch my arms.

~M

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One thought on “Shades of Gray (or, Signs)

  1. 28 was the first year I really felt that I was aging as well. It’s the first year I ever went to the ER for myself, it’s the first year I experienced chest pain and it’s the first year I visited a family doctor since I had a pediatrician (so, over a decade). Going from perfect health (so I thought) to the ER was mentally jarring. I still have some leftover anxiety about it.

    I’m graying and I don’t mind. The part that gets me is the SLIGHT “situation” on the back of my head and near my temples… I KNOW I had more hair in those spots last year.

    I enjoy maturing and I look forward to being older and the future. However, as my Grandpa used to say, “this getting old isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.”

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