Do I Look Moist? (A Soliloquy About Youth)

I remember seeing a portion of a sitcom nearly 10 years ago, where one of the characters was obsessed with looking “moist”. I totally didn’t get it. What did that even mean?? As it turns out, she meant moisturized, dewy, youthful. Still in my 2o’s, I could hardly relate.

As I near forty, I’m starting to understand. I’m not obsessed with the need to appear youthful, yet I’m definitely more aware of the changes in my body and the ways in which time is shaping me. And yes, I definitely find myself slathering on the moisturizers in an attempt to get that dewy look that comes so effortlessly to the young. I see tiny lines under my eyes when I get too tired that I try to smooth out with eye cream. I know the day is coming when even a good night’s sleep and a good eye cream won’t erase the marks of my years. While I’m not thrilled, I’m also not horrified. I’ve got a lot of experience and at least a bit of wisdom about some things from living for nearly 4 decades. I wouldn’t trade it for youth and the taut skin that comes with it.

Still, there is something to be said for the allure of the young.

The other day I had a nineteen year old boy that I know tell me I was one of the most beautiful people he’d ever met. The words were without guile; in fact, I’m not certain this particular boy is even capable of guile. He told me that I radiated beauty, inside and out. For just a moment, I felt exactly how he saw me: Beautiful. What was even more poignant is that he was looking at me with eyes unburdened by baggage from 20 more years of living. He wasn’t judging me through a lens smudged with regrets. He expected nothing from me in return, he just gave me the gift of the compliment.

Considering my very bruised and damaged self-esteem, it was a compliment I’ve been holding onto for the last few days.

The young remind us of who we used to be, of the energy that used to surge through our bodies. They remind us of what it feels like to jump without looking, because we don’t even understand what it means to fall; of what it means to love without reserve, because we’ve not had our hearts truly broken. There are moments I envy that lack of experience and the ability to see the world as fresh and clean, while still believing I know everything. Then I remember that to be able to stand in that place again would mean having the mistakes and heartbreak ahead of me.

Still, for just a moment, it felt good to bask in the glow of this boy who is only 7 years older than my oldest child and to enjoy the knowledge that, lines and all, he found me beautiful. Hopefully life will treat him gently and not wipe that innocence from his eyes too quickly. One day soon, perhaps he’ll meet a beautiful, “moist” young woman who will have that same starry look in her eyes and think he is the most wonderful person ever.

I’ll hold that wish for him and hold the gift of his compliment close, for a long time to come.

 

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