By Stella O’Leary
In your forties, it’s either freeze your face or freeze your eggs. If you’re financially astute, both. But what is in our best interest? Is tricking your face into the visage of a younger you while scooping your reproductive material into a little egg hotel the greatest thing? Or are they in fact, working in conjunction against each other? If we had accepted our age, would we be making more ‘appropriate’ choices? Or is this a culture that suggests we should all be tens with careers, and babies. (No worries!) An impossible line of bullshit.
I have put off fillers. I have put off egg freezing. Last week my commercial agent asked if I would go in for ‘a union job that shoots in Uruguay. Must be willing to have botox injections. In Uruguay.’ I passed. The next day they emailed again- was I passing because schedule conflict or botox? Now trust, I’m a writer who dabbles, not an in demand actress. The commercials I have booked have always surprised me. Girl on a date, girl fighting with boyfriend at diner, girl making vows on a water fountain. Mostly in life, I am girl in overalls writing in coffeeshops. Then my mother called, and offered some egg freezing. Because despite my protestations, I am not girl, I am woman. On good days, with rose oil and sunglasses, I may trick you into see a maiden, but I’m full mother stage (despite not having established who father is gonna be.) So at the offer of eggs money, I perked up like a thirsty iris.
Now, my last boyfriend wasn’t ready. Younger than me in spirit and years, kids weren’t on his radar. I hung out. Crossing the fingers. Until it just got too yucky. Too weird. Too off in how I played with children and wanted to put the extenders in my dining room table and have giant clumps of family units over for dinners while he’d prefer to be exploring his psyche in Joshua Tree with the help of artisanal gummie hallucinogens. No judgement, just different stages. I couldn’t be mad. At his age, I was dating and writing poems about a guy who drank Malibu Rum without irony and wore artful scarves. We all have our things to work through.
But now I’m here. I have choices. I can trick my face into the past, I can trick my body into the future. But what do I do with my psyche where a fortyish single lady lives? Even if the lady gets carded when buying a bottle of wine, where do mature dreams go if she hasn’t found her partner? And if you go and jump on the tweaking and chasing youth bandwagon, because it’s hella competitive out here, what are you saying to yourself? Frances McDormand -it and hope for the best? If you have a chunk of change, how do you budget for your reproductive future? Do you drop it on upkeep and sexpot-ifying or wrap up your genetics in a prayer? In the game of life by Milton Bradley, these were not on the wheel of choices. This is modern and this is confusing and I don’t want to feel like I’m driving an Amish buggy with keeping my body naturally synched. Modern womaning has never been more confusing to me, because I haven’t ‘settled down’ (never understood this phrase, as raising a family seems like the most hectic thing ever).
I am not financially astute. I’m a writer. My mom is getting scared, my mom also always worked my whole life, so some money to manipulate biology is there. Without that, there is no choice. This circle jerk of independence, also infantilizing. Maybe I just need a vacation. But that isn’t something that tracks or offers proof, results, tangible futures.
So for now I will research my choices. Which is to receive her offer or not. She wouldn’t pay for botox anyway. Her Midwestern farm self refused fake lady things and rubbed itself all over my identity. Which is why I didn’t audition for Uruguay. Where should I have booked it, I’d have taken the money and taken a rest. So I could hear myself think. And in the quiet, stop being numb. Even if my face was.
Stella O’Leary is a writer in a coffee shop.