Exactly a year back, staring into the mirror, taking stock of life for the year, I noticed my first strand of grey hair. Pleased to meet you, it said mockingly. I looked at the unwelcome guest in an already rebellious mess, and told myself in my best serious voice that I needed to do something about it. And I wondered - do I pull it out unceremoniously, or do I disguise it? The latter seemed realistic, simplistic. So, I used L'Oreal. Because I am worth it.
Somewhere then, standing in a pool of coloured water I realized either I am in denial about getting old or I suffer from the Peter Pan syndrome. You know, when you were young, the people who were as old as you are right now, seemed a lot older then. And you always thought, when you become their age, you will be like them, as mature, as focussed, as dignified. But now at this age, while you clumsily search for an iota of change within yourself, you don't think you have remotely made it. And, you dread that it would never be any different. You dread that wont be able to do what every Paul, John, George and Ringo could do. You dread that people would never take you seriously. You just dread.
I feel that today. Here I am, on the wrong side of the quarter life crisis, and heading towards the big 3-Oh at breakneck speed. I do carry the albatross of responsibility, yes, but yet, I don't feel like I am changing for the better. The same euphoria, the need for attention, the drama, the noise, the short attention span, the unnecessary rant, the nervousness, the anticipation, the love, the hatred. All like there is no tomorrow. No change. Not a sign of it. No hope either. I don't know whether it is good or bad. But, I wonder whether I could ever fulfill the duty of aging gracefully. Time is running out and I am not getting older, per se.
A crash into reality.
I think I take life too seriously.
So, I stand at the immigration counter, take off my glasses, give a pleasant smile to the officer, take a candy, and as I head to collect my baggage. I enter the shop which sells spirits. But the whiff of a new limited edition perfume drifting in the air distracts me. So, I walk into that shop instead. Perfumes make good gifts. On one shelf, I see gracefully wrapped pots of sweet-smelling stuff. Miracle waters, creams, tonics. One for each part of the body: eyes, nose, mouth, palms, arms. To increase glow, to decrease shine, to lighten scars, to reduce fine lines, to prevent wrinkles, to cheat time. A pot for everything. And, I stare at everything in the shop, with greed, and quiet contemplation. Duty free, it says. And I realize, if there is a gift I need, it would be a duty free approach to aging.