The week has been eye-opening. Illuminating. Clarifying. Humbling.
I had cataract surgery on my left eye. The process had all the accouterments of having surgery except I got to keep my jeans on which gave the whole thing kind of an outdoorsy feel. The operating room, the IV, the warm blanket, the faraway chatter, the fleeting admonition to myself to think only of paddling our canoe as a way to steady my nerves, the sudden having it be over and finished, all of it was like getting my cochlear implant although then they drilled a hole in my head while I was busy paddling.
This time they inserted a tiny tool in my eye and broke up my old lens. Oddly, I could see this happening, the shards of the lens like pieces of glass in a kaleidoscope and I was fascinated and taken by this, the colors moving, and then I saw the looming dark profile of the surgeon bending over me like a shadow in a closet in a very scary movie. I knew it was the doctor though so it was all okay. After the light show, unbeknownst to me, he inserted another little tool which had my new lens spring-loaded so it unfolded like magic while I was dozing, I guess, because it wasn’t clear to me, as they say, until much later.
Since the surgery, I have been washing my face every morning, yes, with soap, and putting on moisturizer and walking out the door. I figure with all the doctor’s precautions about infection and the four times a day steroid drops I ought not be confusing things with Maybelline Great Lash. Why screw things up for the sake of vanity.
But truth be told, I have been feeling lately as if my true face ought to be sufficient, that I can’t be bothered doing everything I used to do to make my face look better. I will just go around and have my face. I do have a killer haircut, that is one important indulgence, but make-up, I’ve been letting it dry into shards on the shelf, like my lens, I guess.
Years ago, I would look at older women who didn’t wear make-up, the ones who wore flannel shirts and old jeans on their way to the day’s garage sales, usually these were women who five minutes ago were doctors and lawyers but were now retired, and I’d think “Why are you giving up?” After a while, the older I got, I started to regard their facial nakenness as liberation. They earned the right not to care anymore. Soon I would be there and not care, too. Just like them. Screw the patriarchy and its fucked-upness about what women should be doing with their faces.
But I looked at myself in the mirror this morning, my bare face and mascara-less eyelashes blending into a beige, unremarkable landscape of deep wrinkles offset by my two blue eyes, one of them way more capable of taking in the detail than the other and I thought, “Jesus H., Jan, why are you giving up?” So I went to Target this afternoon, which, yes I know there are whole stores devoted to make-up where some 25-year old could give me advice but I’m not there yet, I’ll never be there, there isn’t enough time left for me on the planet to make that leap, and at Target I bought all new make-up – foundation, powder, new eye shadow, new mascara, and, a brush for my blush.
I also bought sunglasses. A pair of $15 sunglasses. This is remarkable in its own right because the years of prescription sunglasses which cost what I paid for my first car are over. I can also push my sunglasses up on the top of my head which makes me feel young and sporty like I used to feel when my sunglasses doubled as a headband for my hair.
I guess all of this goes by way of saying. I’m not dead yet. And I’m not giving up.