I am of a certain age and I am approaching invisible. I am in the second act of life.
It is a long way from the first act. Youthful and glowing and careless. The first act got me noticed, but not always for the right things.
This second act is limbo. I am not young, I am not old. Sometimes men on the street smile. Older women always do. Kids bump into me. Most everyone calls me ma'am.
It is the sales girls who don't see me anymore. Unless I am silly enough to cut through Neiman Marcus on my way to the street. Then I am preyed upon like a young gazelle. But that is a whole different world.
The young sales girls in the funkier shops rarely give me a second glance. I am still hip and funky in my own head. True, I'm wearing yoga pants and an old sweater, but I still need/want/desire the overpriced beauty products and pretty things they are selling. I wonder why they think I don't still need/want/desire the same stuff in the second act. I'm quite sure I will need/want/desire the same pretty things in the third act as well.
I am not mourning my youth, I am examining my middle age. It is the state of being neither here nor there. I fit in the junior department sizes but I cannot wear the fashions. When I swerve toward my daughter's department she reminds me with a clear command to "Step away from the junior department, Mom."
The fashions that are geared to women of a certain age are frumpy and dowdy. They don't know me. They don't know me at all. I tell myself, "Step away from the women's department, Joan." Yoga pants and sweaters are my reluctant fashion choice. It is my middle- aged uniform.
The bus driver on my morning commute has not offered me the senior citizen discount which I take as a good sign. But he does not joke and say he missed me when I didn't ride his bus for a week. He asks the young girls where they have been when they miss a day on his route. It's OK. I'm not looking for male attention. I'm just noticing how it isn't there anymore.
I have worn sensible shoes all winter. I feel short and sexless in them. There is something about the shoes I wore in the first act that added some much- needed confidence. My mother preached sensible shoes and here I am for the first time listening to her. My mother accepted invisible. I apparently do not.
I am not writing about sex or men or even attractiveness. I am simply pondering the second act. The potential it has to send me on the way to a place called Invisible.
The funny thing about the second act is that I forget I am in it most of the time. It takes an unacknowledged jostle on the sidewalk or a salesgirl's slight to remind me.
Maybe this second act is the act where women stop being seen and start being heard. I am going to give this some serious thought. And get myself some not so serious shoes.