Your first sense of aging is your driver’s licence picture.
In your 20s, 30s and 40s, you simply don’t like it. No doubt. The no-smile rule and a clerk/photographer, who has absolutely no interest in catching your best side, in black and white, will do that to you.
When you’re older, as in my case, you get the licence in the mail and cringe.
Me? I opened it and thought at first they had mixed my licence up with an elderly gentleman.
“It makes me look like I’m 60 years old!” I grumbled.
A quiet voice in the background said, “You are 60 years old.”
Then there is the picture that appears with my column in The Mirror. My long-suffering editor Alistair said he needed a headshot to go with a column I had written. He needed it right away.
I woke up the next morning, handed the camera to my daughter and told her to shoot me. I wished she would have. The result of tossing and turning on the pillow over night was, well, depressingly interesting. I sent the picture to Alistair anyway.
“I look even older than 60!” I grumbled when I saw it. A quiet voice in the background said, “You are older than 60.”
I awoke last Christmas in a bit of the merry fog. The girls were waiting for me before opening presents. I went into the bathroom to brush my teeth.
When I looked at the mirror, my heart leapt! The girls had bought me the Search and Rescue Map of Vancouver Island!
It blinked at me. I blinked back.
When my eyes widened in surprise the Vancouver Island mountain range appeared on my forehead. Just above it, the Comox Glacier glowed, almost all white. It was, in fact, receding like the scientists say. I even think I saw a couple of marmots running around up there.
I looked at what they call laugh lines. They were as etched and rambling as logging roads on the map. And you know the not-so-funny thing about laugh lines? They’re okay when you’re laughing. When you’re not, your face looks like a spanked ass.
My nose seemed to be about the same size and shape as ever. On closer examination, seeing it and its environs worn with age, I realized my nostrils looked very much like the Upana Caves.
Lines from the corner of my eyes were obviously the Nimpkish and the Gold River estuaries. At low tide. I just hoped they didn’t smell like it.
I have a couple of birth-markish blemishes on my face that sometimes go away and then come back again. Indomitable spirits. Seemingly fading away to nothing, but for no known reason, every now and then, they blossom back to vigorous life.
I now call them Sayward and Woss.
I was, as it were, all over the map.
But if my aged face replicated such a map, I thought, what would the rest of my body depict? It too would bend to the forces of gravity, wouldn’t it? Resemble some features of our beloved Vancouver Island?
I looked down my pajama top and sure enough there was my belly button — now known as the Hole in the Wall. But somehow it had gravitated to the centre of The Hump, which I had previously called my belly.
In my efforts to more closely inspect my body for a resemblance to the map, I lost the grip on my toothbrush. When I bent over to retrieve it, I chanced a glance at the full-length mirror behind me from between my legs.
There was Victoria. There were the provincial parliament buildings.
And, sure enough, there was one of those log splitters!