You Look Exactly The Same

 

At least in my failing eyes.

My high school friend, whom I haven’t seen in close to 20 years, spent 24 hours with me this past Sunday and Monday. She was dropping her daughter off at an exclusive ballet program in Boston and realized it was an opportunity to check in with me.

It can be nerve-wracking wondering if after the pleasantries and quick catch-up talk, you are going to have something to say to somebody you haven’t seen or spoken with in such a long time, even if she was a close friend back then. I figured it would be fine. We’d had a few private messaging conversations on Facebook and we “like” each other’s Facebook pictures. But I had to face the facts:  Facebook interactions are a long way from being in the same place with a person. And we hadn’t spent any solid time together since the Spring of 1983.

Because my husband and I had attended an un-wedding reception (don’t ask; it was fun) in the city Saturday evening and it was our anniversary (21 years!), we stayed overnight, which made it very easy to pick up my friend at her hotel the next morning. We pulled up at the assigned time and saw her immediately. And guess what? She looked exactly the same. We hugged, did the pleasantries thing, and got back in the car for the 30 minute ride home

Over her brief visit, we drove around and talked, we walked and talked, and we ate and talked. We took a harbor cruise on our motor boat and talked some more. Dinner out; more talk. With my husband and kids, we talked. With the dog, we talked, directing much of our conversation to the dog in that funny voice that everybody who has a dog knows how to use. By the time we left for the airport on Monday, we hadn’t run out of things to say.

But we had admitted to each other that although our faces closely resembled our faces in high school, our skin may not be quite as firm and our bodies may not be quite as perky, due to childbirth and sadly, inattention. We didn’t talk about hair color but I can assure you that mine has changed some. She may be one of the lucky ones who hasn’t turned to the bottle yet (hair color bottle, folks); that we didn’t discuss, as far as I recall. So, yes, we looked exactly the same. But not really.

My husband tells the story of how, at our college reunion, he and a few other men were standing around commenting about how amazing it was that almost everybody looked exactly the way they did in college (20 some years earlier). Everybody was pleased with themselves and the conversation until one man reached into his bag and pulled out our face book from 1983, the one that was sent to each Freshman student before we arrived for orientation. He opened the book and pointed out the pictures of each of the men standing around the circle, including himself. Well, one of them said, I guess we don’t look EXACTLY the same. At that moment, I’m guessing that my husband, who, in 1983, had more thick blond hair than one might believe possible, probably unconsciously ran his hand over his almost-bald head.

Before my friend left, we had lunch with another close friend, whom neither of us had seen in a while (although I’d seen him more recently probably since we’ve been living in the same state since the late 1980s.) As soon as he saw us, we exchanged pleasantries (we’re so well-trained) and sat down to eat. The conversation was fun, moving from present to past to present with all sorts of memories rising to the surface and a lot of rehashing of the funny stories that one of us did not know about the other two. At one point, friend #2 said how much friend #1 looked like she did in high school. I didn’t think twice about his not mentioning my looking the same because she was the guest to our city and I had seen him 10 or 15 years ago.

But later, after everybody had left, I thought about it. Why didn’t he make the same comment about me, saying I looked exactly the same as I did in 1983? I didn’t have my high school yearbook to compare the then and now, but I did have my college face book, which had my picture from my senior year in high school. I looked at that photo and then in the mirror and back at the photo again.

Even with almost 50-year old eyes, I could see it clear as day. I don’t look much like I did in 1983. I have the same facial features, the same general shape, but that’s where the similarities end.

Does aging bother you? Knowing that you used to look like a younger, fresher you? Or, are you proud of who you’ve become and don’t care that you look like an older person now, are maybe even proud of your battle scars?

I kinda like me better now. Even better knowing that I can reconnect so easily with old friends. I just have to remember how glad I am to be who I am. Especially when I look in the mirror.

 

Sara

Sara

I write about daily life, arts & culture, food, books, nature, animals, parenting, relationships, self-discovery, & more.

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18 thoughts on “You Look Exactly The Same

  1. Ah, aging…well…I can’t say I love it, but it is better than the alternative. 🙂 Great post, Sara! I actually have a couple of friends who DO look exactly like they did in high school, and if they weren’t such cool gals, I’d probably hate them for it…lol.

    1. Why does it always have to be the ones you like who hold up so well? It would be fun to hate them. Or at least feel superior for some unexplained reason. Don’t know how old you are, but from your pics, you look pretty young. I won’t hold that against you though.

  2. I guess I’m one who would say I’m glad I don’t look exactly like I did in high school. Definitely not the most stylish. However, I think that I haven’t changed that much because I know I look exactly like my grandmother and know how slowly she aged. I would say my best high school chums haven’t changed, but perhaps that’s because we’ve stayed close and ignored each other’s aging.

    1. I thought I was stylish in high school but to look back at the hair and makeup and clothes: O.M.G.

      I think ignoring each other’s aging is a wise thing to do, and with truly good friends, it happens without effort.

  3. Lately, I have been struggling with this aging thing and have noticed how unkind I am to myself when I look in the mirror. I am happier with the person I am now than I was 20 years ago and I need to find a way to be happier with the reflection in the mirror, too. Each day is a new chance to do that. I don’t think I’ve moved far enough past the battles that caused the scars to be proud of them yet.

    1. I wish mirrors reflected more than the surface of who we are, since the surface’s value is much less than that which is inside. I think it is a really important skill to be able to look at yourself and see the person you feel like you are inside. It’s time to stop degrading ourselves over something that doesn’t really tell the story of who we are.

  4. It’s great to have friends like that–where you can not see each other for years and years, then spend hours non-stop talking. Reminds you of why you were friends in the first place. Ah, but aging does bring change…and with it mellowing. That’s good. Me…I am mellow, but with room to grow.

    1. Mellow with room to grow. I like that. I’m not mellow but striving for that one day soon. It was really heartening to find how easy it was to be with two old friends. Gives me a good feeling about other reconnections that I’m sure to make in the future.

  5. I’m actually okay with aging. I like who I am and think life just gets better and better each year! 😀

  6. Great post! As for looking in the mirror – I find that now I need glasses I don’t see so many of the wrinkles! Seriously, I am so much more confident at 58 than I was at 28 and most certainly more than when I was 18!! I sometimes wish I had the body of my 18 year old self with the mind I have now though! I do ‘resort to the bottle’ – usually a 24 wash temporary colour. I once was given this great advice – use a shade 2 or 3 times lighter than your own and the grey will colour to look like highlights and as it all gently fades you don’t get that awful ‘growing out line’. And, for some reason, seeing my hair without grey makes me feel better!

    1. From your picture, you look pretty young, so something is working for you. I don’t know why it makes us feel better to not see the grey in our hair. I’m same way but play with the idea of going au natural.

  7. The person you saw actually does look exactly the same…she has not one wrinkle, and maybe 3 gray hairs. And she’s cute without makeup. Not fair! 🙂 As for aging, I notice it most in the morning (yikes!) and when I stand next to my 18 y.o., with her fresh, young skin. *sigh* I’m learning to embrace the gray (with a few highlights).

    1. She does remain cute without any special effort, but I’ve seen your photos and would say that you don’t appear to have changed much either. The 18 y.o.’s young skin though, we’ll never have that again.

    1. Aww. Thank you. I think the mirror sometimes makes it hard to see that, but you have got it right. The body and face is the housing for the person that lives inside.

  8. Soon, I’ll be heading to a reunion with my ole nursing school buddies. I’ve been going every 5 years, but I missed the first 25 years and until people started talking, I had a bit of a problem matching faces up to my memories. Now that I go every 5 years, it takes about 10 minutes for the new image to sink in and then that becomes reality.
    It’s like watching Harry Potter age as the movies progress. He doesn’t look “older” – it’s just that other images are so much younger!

    1. I love the comparison. I never feel like he is getting much older but I do look back and say they all looked so young in the first movie. My kids were just saying that when they see their second cousins (1x/year) the first fifteen minutes are really awkward but then they fall right back into having fun together the way they did the summer before. I find that I feel that way with old friends. It is awkward briefly but after a little interaction, we find our rhythm and it’s easy again.

So what do you think?