There are days when it hurts to look at myself in the mirror. And this is one of them.
I’ve been sleeping well, but last night the coughing hit again – up at 3 to make lemon and honey tea, up at 5 for cough medicine and half a sleeping pill, and to sit up and begin to write a new foreword to my essay book. Haven’t read the scribbles yet.
But this morning, feeling fragile and looking old, old, old. I am not a vain woman, but when I looked in the mirror I saw a hag, with lined skin and bleary eyes. I know, that’s harsh, and this too shall pass. But it’s a reminder that aging is not for sissies. It does not get prettier, though Hollywood struggles desperately, and foolishly, to pretend otherwise. Except for Cher. Cher is completely ageless. But everyone else looks like a zombie.
I do not look like a zombie, but like a 72-year-old woman with Covid who didn’t get enough sleep. The face is not pretty, but it’s real. And the good news is: I’m washed and dressed! I changed my sheets, because on top of everything in the night, I knocked over my water glass which soaked my corner of the bed. I just shoved myself over to the other side and closed my eyes.
People have been incredibly kind in their offers of help, reminding me, once again, that I am not in fact alone, as I sometimes moan about being, I am surrounded by the love and care of generous, good people. This is an advantage of being single – instead of relying on one person to take care of you when you’re down, there’s a community. There’s a community because as a single person I’ve maintained many vital bonds, not just with friends but with neighbours, current and former students, friends of friends. Although right now, I need nothing, it’s heartening to know they are all out there.
Last night, watched the Kennedy Centre Honours – magnificent Gladys Knight with her Pips, glorious George Clooney, Tania Leon, an extraordinary 79-year-old Black female avant-garde composer – imagine how hard life was for her! – and U2. What was notable with both Clooney and U2 was the focus less on their art but more on their tireless work for many social justice causes. The most beautiful moment was Nick Clooney, George’s father, a former journalist aged 88, speaking with pride of his son’s activism.
Have to say, looking at the man – incredibly handsome and multi-talented with many friends and a great sense of humour, married to the most brilliant, beautiful, socially engaged woman on the planet, father of twins, on top of everything else, he has a nice father who loves him? What is the thorn in the rosebed of George Clooney’s life?
Yesterday, a huge treat and a great lift – a package from France. It was a scarf bought by Lynn at her favourite haunt, Galeries Lafayette. “This colour always reminds me of you,” said the card, and sure enough, these are my colours. The scarf reminded me of an Indian print dress I wore so constantly through the sixties that it disintegrated; perhaps had it on the day I met Lynn in September 1967. I will wear this scarf to bits too, though it’s French, so unlike me, it won’t wear out.
If only she had the slightest inkling of how pretty she is. Look at that hair, that skin. But she didn’t. I’m also admiring my mother’s hollyhocks.
Wrote this in my daytimer for today. Working on it. Oh, and incidentally, I’ve lost a kilo. The miracle Covid diet!