My parents’ Skype call was about their new condo association rules. Or about their new floors. Or about both. The reason I don’t remember the exact topic of our conversation is because I spent its entire 23 minutes and 15 seconds staring at my mother’s chin. The iPad camera focused on the lower one-fifth of her face and its copious collection of folds, wrinkles, and saggy parts.
After I hung up, I went directly to the mirror.
What I saw didn’t impress me. While my chin and the parts just adjacent haven’t yet begun a full southbound migration, there were clear signs of this intention. It was apparent that my chin has given up. If before it knew its job was to keep the skin below the corners of my mouth tight, now it thought it was time to retire. Or if not retire, then at least reduce its hours to part-time.
When you notice your chin begins to go, you immediately start paying attention to other women’s chins. In fact, you see nothing in their faces but their chins. And because you feel young at heart and therefore hang out with women 10 or even 15 years your junior, you see a lot of perfect chins, which directly affects that young-at-heart feeling and not in a good way.
A part-time, underperforming chin isn’t a thing you can cover. A double chin you can mask with a chic scarf, but your regular chin cannot be camouflaged. Your only solution is either not to look at it when you see yourself in the mirror or to get a facelift.
The first wasn’t really an option for me. I don’t know about you, but every time I looked in the mirror, my eyes went directly to the area of my body I’d decided to obsess over. The second solution is equally problematic. Let’s say you get a facelift. Or two. Or three (apparently it’s hard to stop). By the time you reach your mother’s age, it’s impossible to tell where your mouth ends and the ears begin.
As I was pondering the hazards of facelifts, a curious thing happened. I got a TUT email. For those of you who don’t know, TUT sends "Notes from the Universe." That’s right — the universe sends emails. You can sign up for a free daily email that’ll deliver inspiration, support, and cosmic love right into your mailbox.
I first learned about this direct line to the Universe through a life coach. After plugging in my email address and two goals with the mandatory adjectives of awesome and fabulous (as instructed by the Universe’s postmaster), I pressed submit and prepared for daily empowerment. For the most part, in the six months that I’ve been receiving these emails, the Universe hasn't disappointed.
Then, on the day that I considered a facelift, I received this email:
When you look at old photos, Margarita, it's obvious isn't it? You were good-looking back then. Really good-looking. Yet somehow, at the time, you didn't quite believe it.
Margarita, learn from yesterday, because today you're even better looking than you were then. Way better. You're smarter, too. Funnier. Wiser. More compassionate. Less serious. And you're totally sauntering!
Just thought you should know.
I immediately felt better. If the Universe said I was good-looking, then maybe I should stop considering facelifts. But then I looked up the word sauntering. And that got me confused. The dictionary said that “to saunter” was to walk slowly, to mope, to wander and it said sauntering was similar to aimless, idle, vagrant. It sounded like the Universe was calling me slow, which, in my mind, had nothing to do with good-looking and everything to do with my lazy chin.
I reread the email again to make sure the Universe was making sense. And I noticed that, in the same email, the Universe was also telling me that I was wiser, smarter, more compassionate, and funnier — all of which are completely true. But as happy as I was that the Universe had noticed that, it also confirmed, in my mind, that my chin problem was bigger than I thought. It wasn’t just my impression that my chin was slacking off — the Universe saw it, too. And if the Universe could see it, so could everyone else.
Thankfully, it was the wiser me that decided to do some more chin research. I began to study the chins — and the entire faces — of older women on the streets.
What I discovered was that they were beautiful. The lines that traversed them spoke of lives lived, places visited, heartaches overcome, and laughter begotten. There wasn’t a wrinkle that didn’t tell a story and together they seemed to write a book as unique as its owner. I wanted a narrative just like theirs, and I no longer minded anyone seeing it. Even if it were through an iPad lens and looking up from down below.
That’s how the smarter me decided against facelifts.
Then the less serious me embraced the sauntering that has now spread to my eyelids.