Sunday, March 28, 2010

On the Topic of White

This morning I realized I have not addressed my hair for months.
I am sporting a mop.
I like it.
It falls here and there and takes on a different look daily.
But today I realized I might be looking a bit too moppy.

"Is it professional?" I thought.

Umm, no.

When I talk to people, I notice their eyes drift upwards.
when I talk to women, I notice they are talking to the white strands in my hair. Taken individually, these white strands are rather pretty. They are pure in color and glisten when the light hits.

In 1995, I remember stopping at a store in the middle of nowhere, Alaska, and the proprietress was a petite, beautiful woman with enormous green eyes, fair unlined skin, and a mane of snow white hair. She stood out in that simple setting. In my mind the whiteness of her hair echoes the snow of the landscape, but it was summer, and the roads were lined with the pink blooms of the ubiquitous fireweed and the landscape was green.

Having white hair marks you.
It labels you as someone who you are and at the same time, as someone who you are not.
There is no white hair among the women I work with. Not a strand.
And yet, I am one of the youngest.
And when the eyes drift upward, it labels me.

I work with an elderly gentleman, a nonagenarian.
He thought I was 28.
I'll add 10 years for kindness. Another 5 for eyesight. A few more lighting. But then, I guess I'll have to subtract a few, because we work up close and personal, face to face--so I can give him the support and facilitation he needs to reach his goals.
When I told him my age, he smiled with delight and said, "Why you're middle aged!"
Which made me wonder if my age put me in the category of available women.
Especially when I asked him what he was going to do for his upcoming birthday and he said, "Start chasing women!"
He is very polite, doesn't have a mean bone in him, a great conversationalist, open-minded, makes me laugh, and always tells a good joke.
Not a bad catch when you think about it.

When I went to my high school reunion, the men looked twice as old as the women. They had gray hair and weathered skin. I came home and told T to start using face creme. Hah. He doesn't see the point. But, then what would you expect from a man who spends 10 hours riding over 100 miles "just for fun" on a mountain bike.

I haven't figured out the point of my white hair to me. Whether I should pay attention to the occasional white strand, knowing that proliferation is in my future. Or forget about it, as I usually do.

It's just when the eyes drift upward, and the subtle subtext of the interaction turns to what's on my head, that I remember I look a little different.

There's not a whole lot of white out there anymore.

(Note: This post is dedicated to Misty, who on her most recent birthday, reconfirmed herself as a brave and embracing woman.)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Lesson From A Car Break-In

My car just got broken into, but it could have been worse.

I parked my car in the "secure" fenced and locked lot at work and was in the building from 4:30 to 5:20 pm and ‘they’ got my car. Smash and grab. Window gone. Left all my working files, fortunately.
This is what they got:
Very old cell phone that was a cast off from T and needed to be replaced--now canceled so you can't call me there.
My very new work phone--so, not my worry. I told work and they told me they would take care of it in the morning. T just told me he called my work number and someone answered so he said (in a deep voice), "This is __ (insert work name), we have cameras and we know who you are." Silly guy, but it made me laugh.
My credit card. I only carry one at a time, just in case. By the time I called the credit card company at 5:30 pm--there was a charge on it from KFC. Seriously, KENTUCKY FRIED CHICKEN??!! $20. At first I thought, “What a bunch of Brats!" Then, I thought, "Maybe it was some homeless, hungry person," and felt a little sympathy. I can be such an idiot sometimes.
My driver’s license. How is some Brat going to pass for someone of my age? But, who's to say.
My debit card. Cancelled.
A very old and fraying purse that needed to be replaced--I just hadn't gotten around to it.
Miscellaneous this and that: A hair clip, mirror, comb, lotion, Burt's Bees lip balm; water bottle; a compact and really cute pill dispenser for vitamins that I got at Run4The Zoo a few years back. A water bottle that I liked. All replaceable.
Keys, keys, and more keys. Lots of keys. Fortunately, I use a P.O. Box, so not traceable to my home. Fortunately, I have a partner who has duplicates.

I felt pretty naked without a mobile phone.
I had to wait by the car in this deserted parking area without a phone. Felt funny. Realized how connected we all have become. Everyone I called (to cancel cards, etc.) wanted a phone number.
Well, too bad.
I'm off the grid for now.

The police officer that came to take report got all of my info then walked me around the car. The first thing he said, after getting my info, was, "You can't be __ (insert age)." I was so startled I forgot how old I was, got confused, and almost said, "I'm __ (insert age 10 years older)." Don't ask me why. Why are we talking about my age anyway?

I keep trying to think if I've missed something. Something of inordinate value must be gone. I can't have been the victim of this somewhat violent event, with glass shattered everywhere, and gotten off this easily. My cycling shoes and favorite non-leaking goggles are still in my workout bag, along with one of my favorite workout outfits--replaceable, but still I'm hard to fit. My library card was on the dash and left behind. My car was covered in glass, but I actually use disposable liners for part of the car, to keep it clean for work related items, so rolling up the disposable liners and tossing out the glass was easy.

In the past, I would have felt devastated and violated. Of course, there was the initial shock. But, after I took stock, it really felt more like a dip in the fabric of life. T is more upset about it than I am. Wanted to cancel our upcoming trip (3 days, camping out, sleeping in, rock climbing by day, open air sunsets and a fire by night). Said, "We have things to take care of." For my part, I'm happy to duct tape a piece of plastic over the window and move on. My windshield needs replacing, so I guess now's the time.
Yes, it will cost me money.
But no harm done is priceless.
Of course it may be that I’ve just become inured from too many personal experiences, but what I really think it is, is that time and personal experience truly teaches us what is important in life.

I know I will go out tomorrow, and I will help a 92-year old man learn to walk again, and a 40-year old woman regain her strength after a month on life support. I will work with a man who is pretty far out on the fringe of acceptance, who will make me laugh, but then grab onto me for support when he loses his balance. I will rub the pain out of a foot that has multiple bone breaks after a motor vehicle accident. I will teach and encourage and give people hope and skills for a better future, even as they face loss of ability and a different future.

That’s what I do.

I only wish that the person who stole from me might know that the person he stole from could be the very person he might need, without bias or judgment, in the future.

But, then again, the person who stole from me is probably a Brat.