My younger friends are having fun using the aging app. I don’t want to; it’s too close to real life for me. Besides, how can anyone who grew up under the Cold War use a Russian face-altering app, especially when you have to allow them access to all your information? Not me.
All this focus on aging, during the week the world celebrates the 50th anniversary of the first humans stepping foot on the moon, has made me reflect.
I’m so glad to be the age I am! I’m proud to have been a child in the sixties. The decade had it all: the highest highs, the lowest lows, and arguably the best music ever. Being a child on a sheltered peninsula of small towns and easy living, I didn’t feel the full extent of the decade’s turbulence. My selective memories are of events that brought the world together, not the ones that divided us.
After the lunar module docked on the moon, while Neil and Buzz frolicked on its crater-filled surface for those 21 hours, I went outside with my dog Alexa (who, if she was alive today, would not only have set records for the oldest dog ever, but she’d be so confused by people calling her name and commanding her to play “Penny Lane” or asking her the time or what the weather forecast is). My brother was away at camp, so it was only Alexa and I that evening. We stood quietly for the longest time looking at that big pizza pie. I was 12 years old and I’m sure I knew I couldn’t really see them, but I just felt compelled to gaze upward. I knew our world would never be the same again.
I remember trying to take a photo with my instamatic camera. The flash cube jumped all around with each shot, but sadly, none of them survived. This photo of Alexa will have to do. (I’d written 1969 on the back, but clearly, with the leaves, it wasn’t July.)
Six months earlier, on Christmas Eve, the Apollo 10 crew recited the most appropriate words ever written as they orbited the earth: “In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth. . . ”
I also remember the dark days of that decade. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination. Robert Kennedy’s. Soon after I turned seven, I can even remember something most of my classmates do not: President Kennedy’s assassination.
That November day, I’d stayed home from school with a strep throat. I heard my mother crying and screaming to me to hurry downstairs. I bundled up in blankets on the sofa and watched the footage, over and over, of the blood spattering Jackie’s pink suit with her pink pillbox hat. (Recently, my older and wiser brother reminded me we didn’t have color TV then. I love how imagination and memory so often blend together.)
My brother said he got permission from his teacher to go to the restroom that day. He walked by the principal’s office, where he heard the news that the President had been shot. When he returned to his classroom and told his teacher, she reprimanded him for “making up a story.” No one could believe something like that could possibly happen. Our world was shattered that day.
The man who, just two years earlier, had urged Congress to make it their goal to land a man on the moon and return him safely to earth by the end of the decade was murdered. And yet, against all odds, we succeeded to do the impossible thing he’d challenged us to do.
So what if my skin has started to sallow and sag and my un-dyed hair is mostly gray? I grew up at a time when the world joined together to watch history being made. My aging is my proof that I was there.
All that to say that I will not be using the aging app. If I really want to know what I’ll look like in 24 years, I just have to look at my mother. And she looks pretty good!