The challenge is to post your first Facebook profile image with your most recent. I joined Facebook in 2007, but the most recent image of myself I could find at the time was from about 2004. I didn’t have a machine that could take a selfie and post it online. Also, my vocabulary didn’t yet contain the word selfie. I’m not immune to that anxiety around the physical effects of time. Whether we’re proud of our greys or not, the fact that we make a decision around whether to colour or not is itself a tell. And while I’m colouring my hair to appease my vanity, I’m also not ashamed to tell you that my body is a big old creak-show right now. (At this very moment, I’m elevating my swollen ankle because I stood up funny two days ago.)
How hard did aging hit me? I’m more interested in what the side-by-side pics don’t show. When I look at 33-year-old Lynette, I see a woman who has the first really satisfying job of her life, who is thinking thoughts like I hope I can pull my life together before anyone figures out how messed up I am. She is beginning to believe her secrets are harmful, but she hasn’t yet found the courage to break her secrets.
At 33 years old, she is at war with her body. Not just the way it looks, but the things it wants. She is struggling with appetites of all kinds, and her physical appearance and clothing size are merely the just desserts of a woman who yields to the body’s urges. She’s already been on and off diets for two decades, and she hasn’t put on a swimsuit in years. Likewise, she hasn’t let her guard down with a man in years. Her body compels her to do things against her better judgement; and at 33 years old, she is all about judgement.
Also at 33 years old, she is deciding to see herself as beautiful. It may turn out to be a big joke in the end, but she is gaining some sense of strength from believing her own propaganda. She’s wearing beauty like a little hat you clip on, an accessory rather than a birthright. A fascinator. She is becoming fascinating.
At 33 years old, she is contemplating taking a 20% reduction in pay in order to stay home on Mondays to write. She doesn’t yet know that, in St. John’s right on her doorstep, there are writing courses and a whole community of writers and aspiring writers just like herself.
At 33 years old, she is planning a month-long stay in Prague, despite the fact that she has neither the resources nor the free time to make the plan a reality.
At 33 years old, she hasn’t yet experienced the power of hashtags to bring strangers together in a #metoo bond. She has, however, just recently seen Oprah explain the concept of grooming. She sees 16-year-olds around her and realizes just how young they are. At 33 years old, she begins to understand that what happened to her at 16 was not her fault.
At 33 years old, her connection to her faith community is coming undone and she is afraid her faith might also be collapsing. Or maybe it’s just going through a trial by fire–maybe it’s not coming apart but just getting refined. She’s not sure. She’s trusting that this is what grace is for. She hasn’t yet heard the song about the crack by which the light gets in.
Who am I in 2019? I look at the picture on the right, and I don’t yet know her thoroughly. I guess what’s closest to you is hardest to see. I am my voice speaking. I am the words you are reading. I’ve been to Prague, stayed there for about six weeks. I don’t take Mondays off anymore, but I’ve managed to turn my work into something that sometimes feels more like play. And every chance I get, I put on a swimsuit and get in the water. I’m still making unrealistic plans, but with more faith. My body is still engaged in negotiations with my judgement, but now it feels less like fighting and more like dancing.