I was out at lunch today, getting my nails done*, when Sarah, an old family friend, recognized me. She wasn’t someone that I had been close to, but she was a navy brat like me, and her family often turned up at the parties we’d go to on New Year’s Eve when I was a kid. Though I hadn’t seen her in probably 15 years or more I had been thinking about her just a few weeks before, for the reason that she and her sister look absolutely nothing alike, just like my beautiful girls.
With the three kids together, you can see the family resemblance. Ailsa and Vaughn have the same nut-brown colouring. Vaughn and Tamsin have the same features, but where he is nut brown, she is pasty white with bright orange hair, so it’s really only noticeable in black-and-white photos. Ailsa and Tamsin don’t even look related, to the point that I’ve had to answer questions about it from well-meaning cashiers, assuming, probably, the “different-daddy” factor. Nope, same dad. I often look at Chris with suspicion about the first two, who look nothing like me, but then the patiently tries to explain – again – that “that’s not how that works”.
To digress, this was true of Sarah and Elizabeth, too. One is blonde and blue-eyed, the other with dark, dark, hair and eyes. Both beautiful.
I attempted to explain this to her, in my quick, too-talkative, over-sharing, awkward way. She told me that I hadn’t aged a day, and looked exactly the same as when I was in high school.
I was only slightly flattered. I mean, I wear sunscreen every day, eat well, and yes, I work out, so despite being 41 and having had 3 kids,** I guess that’s a compliment, and one I’m sure many women would die to receive.
Inside, I’m still partly that little kid.*** But really want to think that I’ve grown, that I’ve changed, that I’ve gained grace and style, so that who I am now (and yes, what I look like) impresses the people I haven’t seen in a long time, if I ever would go back to a high school reunion, which I wouldn’t. I feel that, aside from my voracious reading, fitness level, and constantly inappropriate sense of humour, I’m almost unrecognizable as the shy little person I was in high school, who didn’t talk, didn’t explore, didn’t stand out. I’ve travelled, learned, and stretched out my comfort zone to what, to me, are extreme levels. I’ve grown only slightly in self-confidence, but learned that great posture tricks everyone else. And as for my newfound… uh… poise?... grace? … uh… considerably less nervousness and goofiness?
Ok, no, I see her point now.
* If I haven’t vented about this already – and I’m sure I have -- one of the (fewer and fewer) things that Chris likes about me is how I always have nice nails. One of the (more and more) things that Fis dislikes is the smell of nail polish. “You can’t have it both ways!” I’ve yelled. “If I can’t do my nails at home, I’ll have to pay for a stranger to paint them every week!” “Fine,” he said, calling my bluff. It’s not every week, in fact, it’s probably 5 times a year. You know all the time and money that normal people spend on their hair? Look at my hair and see how much I’m saving in time, money, and vanity. Then stop judging me and/or telling me I’m paranoid, which is also judgemental, thank you very much. So there. Stop staring at my hair.
** (but 4 babies)
*** A little kid that drinks a lot of wine, that is.