Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Musing on invisibility

At the age of forty I became invisible. I’m not exactly sure when it occurred, though I’m sure it was gradual like wrinkles and loss of memory. But one day I found that flirting and making direct eye contact was something I didn’t want to do because no one wanted to do it with me.

The subtle embarrassment crept over me with the fact that I was now somehow ten years older and my reflection wasn’t something I wanted to examine for longer than a glance in the vanity mirror of the station wagon. My skin had fallen, cut in fourths by lines. Years of accumulated worry had let the avalanche loose. My face had simply fallen onto itself. I had simply fallen onto myself.

My twenties had been spent in indentured servitude – working feverously because that is what one did in Manhattan in your shoulder padded magenta suit with the shiny black buttons and the high heeled patent leather pumps. It didn’t matter that 1987 saw stock brokers trying to force open the sealed windows to jump, we were too ambitious, too poor and too centered on the other end of Manhattan. My thirties was still work that melted into motherhood which was more work only a slower numbing kind where the wheels were dulled by no sleep and the fact that every meal was swallowed standing and rocking. Communication with my once lover reduced to grunts and gropes in the dimly lit hallway. Those years full of pathos too keen to recall in mass. Only sharp memories – unwanted spinal tapes of three year olds, gushes of blood down the legs and loss, triumphs of companies being sold, oxygen depleting happiness and gnawing doubt as to worth. Like a stew that simmered, your face a centimeter from the fire. No perspective. Trench warfare.

Then forty arrived. And the door to mortality stood before you. People in bars become as old as your t-shirts. The choices you didn’t make, the choices you finally understood the repercussions of not choosing, became clearer. Tired, still tired, but you could gasp a breath like a man under water resurfacing through the depth. And now what?

There is something brewing, god forbid that you consider menopause as this tectonic plate shifting your desires. The word closes more doors to your ears. But something is crawling under the surface itching, burrowing farther; reticent, scared to be above ground and recognizable and answerable.

So you stifle about, flitting upon things, unable to commit with the level of ferocity you clawed into work early on, you feel untethered and your kisses to your loving, patient husband whisper the pleas to recognize this woman as vibrant as alive as worthy of notice. You aren’t ready to become that eccentric old woman that pals around with the stock boy or the green grocer. Like some awkward Sean Connery phase of the bad toupee and girdle, you pivot this way and that trying to align your direction, trying to matter in a society so focused on youth and beauty, as if infants would soon be given lipstick and curled hair, younger and younger till at birth everything for that little girl was decided, and no spark, no tenacity, no wit could deter her from her course.

At night, when you turn and drift up from sleep, from that cave where dreams lie in cubbyholes, when you can see the light from the street lamps filter around the edge of the drape, and you feel his breath warm with sleep, the depth of his weight next to you. And you reach out so that he will anchor you to this life, the lifeline to this world, apart from the dark unknown of what will come after.


  1. Just before my 40th birthday I endured the obligatory jabs and jokes at my expense by friends younger than me and I answered them honestly. Turning 40 didn't bother me. BUT...suddenly I am on the verge of another birthday and the fact that I am 'old' has hit me straight in the gut!

    The first paragraph of your post stopped me cold and made me think 'yes! someone understands this feeling'. It it so interesting that your words parallel my own thinking! I would love to talk more about this, your post really hit the heart of getting older for me.

  2. I went to your story The Lost Boys on fanfiction and much to my dismay it was removed. However, I found this little blog and I love it. I have to say that when I started to read your entry on Musin on Invisibility I thought that I was starting an incredibly fascinating new fanfic story. Seriously, I would love to read chapters and chapters about your musings. You have a wonderful way of writing that keeps me glued to the words. I have to say, I feel a little of what you were talking about already at 35. Yikes. What do the next 5 years have in store :) I am definitely going to bookmark your page and keep coming back for more of your "musings". Plus, now that I see how you write I am sooo excited to go and find your stories to read.

  3. Hello Koni,

    Thank you for your kind words. But not to worry, the next 5 years are filled with miracles as well, I was in a purple mood when I wrote the above.

    And as my father says, it beats the alternative!



  4. Hi Liz, my dear,

    There are times I want to hit my head like John Belushi in "Animal House" to see if anyone is paying attention. During these years, I think one needs to focus on being a singular woman -- we are so many other things to so many other people. "A Room of One's Own" never sounded so right -- although look what happened to Virginia...

    Maybe the abiity to keep reaching out, exploring new things, being available is the recipe to keep us sane. I could rant forever on the youth culture or our inability to remember history. But I want to wander with the daffodils like Wordsworth said -- even if I can't see them too clearly!

    Be good,


  5. Wander with the daffodils...I love that. Very fitting. Forty does bring a certain perspective to life. I'm just not as interested in doing things for other people's happiness or convenience, and I find myself insisting on not putting off experiences that I've waited years to have.

    I finally made it to Europe, a couple months after turning 40, and it was so overdue. We're so busy in our 20's with finding our independence, and in our 30's with beating the clock and reproducing before it's too late. At least for me, I didn't do so many things I wish I had. Forty came and I just couldn't accept that I should wait any longer.

    So I'm literally wandering...Greece...Spain...Italy...who knows where, and I'm taking my kids, while they're young, so they can have some of those experiences and appreciate that there's a world outside our normal day-to-day routine.

    It feels great...

    (Lost Boys refugee)

  6. Sarah,

    I find myself looking around, and not recognizing my life sometimes. The children that needed me so intently as infants, are a little less interested in me now that school has come along and first friends are so powerful. It's nice to read your post and feel like I'm not the only one. I am a fan from the Lost Boys, but your writing is so powerful that I would follow it anywhere ( i think i promised from fanfic to barnes and noble :) I love the blog, keep in touch!


  7. Hi Sarah! Thanks for your reply, I guess what I need to remember is how fleeting time passes. My little boys won't be so little for long and sitting around mourning my lost youth (how dramatic) might just cause me to miss out on the good stuff happening now.

    So you do what you have to and grab the opportunities as the come right? I know one more thing, I am making a concerted effort, as Jen noted just above, to make these opportunities happen! (VEGAS anyone?)


  8. Oh Sarah... Boy did this hit home...and I'm 35. Do you suppose this is why I sometimes feel like I am running out of time? I feel like I am cornering the end of my life at 35...that can't be right, right? It's very overwhelming...and depressing. I've been dreading 40, but at the same time I know I shouldn't because I have no desire to return to my youth mentally. Its not fair that we feel like by the time our mind has fully developed and we've figured shit out, we feel like we are all washed up... Uhg. Let's not let ourselves feel invisible!!! What do we have to do? Color our hair purple? Get tattoos? I'm up for it!!!

    Good luck this weekend lady...

    Wendy ~ Muselet for Life

  9. Loved this. Approaching my 5th "round birthday", so I'm a bit older, but your post still resonates. I've always been a bit slow, but I'm quite familiar with that restlessness you've captured so well. The good news is that I can personally attest that if you let it, that divine discontent can lead you to become more aware of and grateful for your blessings than you can possibly imagine. And you will hug that anchor of yours till his glasses pop off his head and he will juggle wildly to keep them from falling to the ground. And you will both giggle that you can still feel that way after all this time.

  10. You put into words everything I've been feeling just after my 39th birthday. I find that where I once was noticed or appreciated, I'm now simply another body in the room. It's now about my daughter and my husband and even my dog. Perhaps that's why I started to write. I needed a place where I felt like someone would really, truly listen to what I had to say. My blog isn't that place, but my fiction certainly is. I share more of myself in a chapter than I ever do anywhere else.

    And right at the moment, I'm finishing up my story, writing the final chapter. It's terrifying because that might be the end. My year of no longer being the invisible mom and teacher are coming to a close. I'll lay next to my husband in bed and listen to his sleepy breaths as I reach for him, wrapping my legs around his, my hand skimming his back and knowing that it won't last for long. Soon he will roll over, my contact too warm, too much for him.

  11. Why was Lost Boys removed from twilighted?

  12. yes, WHY?, At this very moment I enter to your blog to find out where he was The lost boys

  13. Yes, please! I am a tremendous fan of The Lost Boys, and nearly cried when I couldn't find it on twilighted...
    Are you planning to publish it?