Draft: Self Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Posting another random draft for you all. At some point I’m going to have to think about my Obligatory Valentines’ Post (have you noticed? I always seem to write a Valentine’s Day post around about this time, usually because I’m moping and sloping about and relish the chance to bitch about being poor and single. This year I’m still poor and single but I don’t particularly mind, so I don’t know if or what I’ll say about this momentous day, except that it’s silly). So in the meantime, here’s a whole blog entry about my face. You know you love it.

The thing is, you see, my face. And for that matter the rest of me. I think we’ve got to the point now, me and my body, where the only things that are going to change are going to be my haircut, my glasses, and, gradually, an increase in freckles and wrinkles and (let’s face it) body fat.

Photos from a year or more back look somehow younger. The face-shape is different, the skin looks more translucent, somehow. I just look young. And photos of me now, well, they look almost unfamiliar, because the person I see there is not quite how I imagine myself. The person I see there frightens me, because she is my whole future. I can’t see how I look different now to how I will look in five, ten, twenty years, except, as I say, freckles and lines.

Time, confronting me like this in this layered way – I recognise her, I see the child she was, but  that is not who looks out at me now, what looks out at me is me both today and in ten or twenty years – it frightens me, simply because, suddenly, it seems so much shorter, more truncated, broader, and more immediate than it used to.

And photos in which I am tired, or the light is poor and I am slightly more tanned than usual – in those photos I look lined and jowly already. Shop in the odd grey hair and, there we have it, fifty.

No wonder I look at photos of my mother at university and still can’t quite imagine her actually being twenty-one, like me – I can’t help thinking that she looks like a middle-aged woman dressing up as a student from a different decade, even though I know that’s not the case at all. If I’m already seeing those layers of time over my own face, and those are future layers, they haven’t yet happened, then what chance do I have of erasing time that I already know has elapsed, and ceasing to see in those photos my own mother, essentially as I see her now, but in a long denim skirt and ankle socks, or sitting in the bath fully dressed? Not a hope.

Which is going to be bloody weird for my children, when they find those photos of me from Towersey 2009 wearing a miniscule lacy negligee and clearly somewhat the worse for wear…



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7 responses to “Draft: Self Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

  1. As someone who has a wall covered in photos stretching back over nearly a decade (yeesh, was uni really that long ago?!), I can see my face and the faces of my friends and how they’ve changed. And how little my facial hair and hair’style’ have. I see what you mean with this post, for me, I worry about my hairline. Not that it’s receding, not that I’ll go bald, but that it will recede dramatically on one side! It makes me terrified, it makes me picture a jack charlton combover. That would be horrifying. Luckily, I can have facial hair to help distract from any potential jowly goings-on, though.
    Grey hair? I’m not that fussed. In fact, yesterday I saw a hair in my beard that was white. Bright white. Granted, my beard contains almost every hair colour you can possibly have, but skipping the grey and going straight to white? Now that’s the kind of sign of ageing I can get on board with. (This stems from my godmother, who had entirely white hair by the time she was 30, and looked awesome with it; not older than she was, but just awesome – like something from a cool sci-fi film.

    Ha, I’m already rambling like an old man.

    We put a lot of stock in looking young, don’t we? Even so, I’d like to retain a bit of youth. Like Peter Pan. Only less green tights.

  2. Jenny

    I don’t mind the grey hairs, it’s the fact that certain aspects of ageing… in comparison with my younger self, I’ve either aged several years…or simply spent several days or weeks being severely short on sleep. There’s something about getting old which simply makes me look more tired, more solid, less…lucent. I’m not sure if lucent is even a word, but hey. What is a blog for but spuriating wildly?

    I just feel and look more tired. I sit on the floor for an hour or so and I’m aware that my knees have started to hurt. I stand up for a day and my back hurts. It’s more than enough to be grateful, but… I didn’t used to feel my body. I just did what I wanted and my limbs would move accordingly. And that doesn’t feel 100% the case now. More, I suppose, like 99.9%. Which still ain’t bad, and I should just shut up. I’ve got a long way to go yet.

    Laughter lines and grey hairs I’m pretty fine with though, yeah. A body that says, yes, I’ve lived, and done things, and it’s been fun.

  3. Lol thanks Clare. But also. KNEES.

    I swear I basically used to not feel them at all ever unless I actually bruised or grazed them. They just did what I said.


    • claremohan

      pfft. mine click every time I move. S’a fact of life. They’ve done so ever since I was about nine.

      I’ve probably got some hideous disease…


  4. Jenny

    Oh, I don’t mind them clicking! They just shouldn’t be allowed to hurt yet.

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