45.

I'm having a problem lately where I see my own face in a mirror and can't actually believe it's my face. It's not that I don't recognize myself but something has definitely shifted somewhere along the way, and I can't quite put my finger on what it is—or was—or when it happened, and the idea that it happened without me even being aware of it feels both ghostly and futuristic, like Miss Havisham cross-pollinated with a short freckled robot during one of her many long naps. All of which interests me in a vague, anthropological way until I remember that this is the only face I've got and odds are it isn't getting any better from here. Naturally this thought is immediately followed by a clap of thunder and my mother's voice reminding me that some people don't have faces at all, probably, and aren't I lucky.

But 45! 45 is a traffic sign age, a speed bump age, a not implausible mid-point. The Maginot Line of aging. 45 is not old yet but old is coming. Whatever "old" means. (To some people it is certainly old. To others it is spring chickens.) And while I'm not sure "old" has an assigned age, I do know I'm closer now to 60 than I am to 20, or even 25. This concerns me for reasons that have nothing to do with looks, but mostly I'm curious. It's like a Christmas present I didn't ask for and can't return that shows up at 2:30 in the morning or on random Tuesdays in July. And one that's also, obviously, a permanent tattoo.

In my quest for peace and understanding I keep turning back to this smart interview with Megan Follows (long may she reign), where, responding to a question about feminism, she says that "[women] get this pressure as you get older that your value becomes less. And I think, what's the alternative? I don't get older? I don't bring the quality of who I am and my experience to what I have to offer? So that my value is more at a certain point than now? That's kind of insane, and very disempowering."

So what are we to do? When I was younger I was also quieter and nicer and shyer and dumber. Nothing to cling to there! Today I say fuck 'em all, and this is my face. Here is 45.