I’m not ashamed about aging.
In fact, I make it a point to celebrate it every March.
And by celebrate it I mean bemoan the fact and complain about neck wrinkles and failing eyesight and a horrifying intolerance to drinking after 10 p.m. before doing a quick 180 and offering up gratefulness for all of the above so I don’t jinx myself.
But if I’m being totally honest, I’ll let you in on a little secret: I feel pretty damn good for 48.
And a half.
Despite the extra 6 (*cough* 8) lbs. I’m packing since last fall and the aforementioned neck wrinkles, and despite the fact that I’ve been treating the treadmill like it has a communicable disease since about April, I feel like physically I look more like a spry 46 — or, dare I say it — 45.
And mentally? Sharp as a tack! I can scroll my Facebook and Instagram feeds and then switch to a quick check of the weather and E!News without skipping a beat.
First thing, every. Single. Morning.
Sometimes while feeding my cats.
I mean, I may or may not forget who I need to wish Happy Birthday to or what the temperature will be at 3:00 as soon as I’m done, but I blame that on the incredible amount of information I’ve stored in my brain over the past 48 (and a half) years rather than on aging.
It’s the same reason I occasionally can’t retrieve a word I’ve lost when I’m in the middle of a scintillating story.
(Thank you Thesaurus.com.)
But I digress.
The point I’m trying to make is that all in all, lately I’ve been feeling pretty damn good about myself … until the red bathroom.
Or as I think of it, the “red” bathroom.
Many of you know I work part time in a fabulous lakefront clothing store (now with 86 locations! Shop locally or online!).
I’ve worked there for one whole year now.
In that year I’ve used our back bathroom many times.
I’ve gone in there for the obvious as well as to reapply lipgloss, check my hair, my phone, and even — whispers — have cleaned it.
Point is, I cannot remember one shift I’ve worked in the past year where I haven’t been in that bathroom.
The bathroom that I swear until last week WAS PAINTED WHITE.
Not only are the walls white in my mind, but the subway tiles that cover about half of the walls are white as well.
Last week I was standing outside of the bathroom chatting with my manager when I glanced into the dark bathroom.
“Wait. When did the bathroom get painted?” I asked.
“What are you talking about?” she said slowly, as if she was talking to a toddler.
She’s 29, and as adorable in her personality as she is in her appearance.
I walked into the bathroom and turned on the light. The bright red walls blinded me. The dark brown tiles shocked me.
“No, really. This bathroom hasn’t always been red. It was white,” I said with confidence. I mean, I’m 48 (and a half). I KNOW THINGS.
“Um, yes it has. For like forever!” Now she was full on laughing … and somewhat less adorable.
I turned the light back off, then on again, as if that would magically switch the walls and tiles back to white AND RESTORE MY SANITY.
I looked back at my manager, hoping she had also magically switched into Rod Serling and I was smack in the middle of The Twilight Zone, which is exactly where I felt like I was.
But no, she was still (somewhat) adorable, that bathroom was still red, and I was in the middle of a personal hell.
I chuckled along with her. “Heh heh! Oh man! I swear it was white!” More chuckling. Then, “ARE YOU CERTAIN IT HAS ALWAYS BEEN RED??” I may or may not have frightened her with the abrupt change in my tone … and my bulging eyes.
“You are so funny!” she laughed, and then walked away quickly, probably to flag my employee file with an AARP sticker.
After she was safely out in the store, away from the frightening signs of LOSING ONE’S MIND, I once again walked back to the bathroom, hesitating as I slowly reached my hand around the door frame and turned on the light, as if those walls were painted with blood.
Standing in the middle of the bathroom, surrounded by the bright red walls and dark brown tiles, I closed and opened my eyes a bunch of times, trying like hell to change the memory of the WHITE walls and WHITE tiles to red and brown.
I felt like I was trapped inside that horrid white/gold or black/blue dress meme.
(It was white and gold, BTW.)
It didn’t work, so I did what I usually do when feeling confused, overwhelmed, and more than a bit frightened by the passing of time and what it all means.
I shut off the light — literally and figuratively — and ran.
But seriously, it does make me more than a little concerned, not to mention question ALL THE THINGS I know to be true in my life.
Is my maroon SUV really a silver sedan? Is my hair blonde? And thick? Are my girls boys??
It’s been over a week now, and every shift I’ve worked has found me back in that bathroom, stunned at the red walls and trying to alter my memory … and failing.
Even at home, I’m haunted by the crystal clear image in my mind of the white walls and tile, because now I can also see the red and brown.
It’s disturbing AF.
I was telling my husband the story the other night while we were standing in our bathroom that has had brown walls for 16 years, and I said, “It’s like if one day you walked in and these walls were blue, and I said, um, they’ve always been blue. Wouldn’t that freak you out?”
“These walls are blue,” he said.
So I turned him into George Clooney.
I mean, why not?
Note to any healthcare professional who may read this and decide to offer up some terrifying diagnosis in the comments:
UPDATE!! My friend and coworker just told me she read this and also thought the bathroom was white!! And no, the fact that we are both fans of a nightly glass (two) of wine DOES NOT FACTOR INTO THIS.