When I was asked by the lovely Candy Baker (formally of the Byron Bay Writer’s Festival) to contribute some stories for a new book ‘The Wisdom of Women’ - I was entirely sure she’s mistaken me for somebody else – somebody with an intelligent gleam in her eyes, a smooth flow of wisery (new word, I like it) sentiments and at least a few crinkles on her face. Then it hit me – I had the crinkles in abundance! – so why not I say … Allen and Unwin have published it and it’s out right now on shelves… here’s a peek at one of my stories …
There aren’t many things I’m sure of in this strange old world, but there is one thing that I am; that as I get older, I feel ‘it’ growing stronger. I’m not even entirely sure what ‘it’ is to be honest, but what it feels like is a strength, an ease, a balance.
People say ‘it’ grows from an accumulation of trials and adventures, an understanding of your own processes as well as others. I don’t really know. But it continues to grow the older I get; a clearer heart, a softer anger, an even balance to my chin. Not high and proving, not low and afraid, but an even chin, level to the ground, my eye’s clear and looking straight ahead. My smile real, not forced. I taste ‘it’ like a berry on my tongue; bone- honest and fresh – and I want more. Every year goes by and my desire for it increases.
Like most of us, I’ve tasted extremes in life – I’ve fallen ass over tit and even shared in a couple of successes. As a child, I was freckle skinned and kind of odd (okay, a lot of odd). I was like a small freckled, knobbly-kneed, tom-boyed fairy to be precise. But eventually I started to grow out my freckles and wipe my face clean. Then I pushed my hair a brighter shade of ‘I want to fit in’ and wore red gloss on my lips and said ‘OMG’ a lot. In my twenties I became an adventurer and travelled madly with a hell bent curiosity to climb mountains, love hard, push my limits and get into trouble. At one stage I even learnt to hush my passions, wear grown up women’s clothes and work in administration. With depression I learnt that life was too short and depression too dangerous a friend to give up on your dreams.
Looking back on it all now, it feels like a kaleidoscope. There were so many highs, lows, so many mistakes, red blooded excitement, uncertainness and searching. Unsure of how to be, what I wanted or where I belonged.
I’m in my thirties now and even though I haven’t found total peace, I sure can smell it from here. Now, all those different parts of my past have become a part of me, and they have lost their sharp edges. I am more at ease with myself now. Age has helped me lose the panic yet keep the joy. I am so deeply thankful for that. It’s the ‘it’ growing stronger with age. As lovely age continues to blossom, my curves soften and grow round, my hair is brushed, I am an adult, tall and even. The fury of youth, the insistence, danger and curiosity like a smack of crazy in my blood has gone. I am no longer at the mercy of it. Of any of it; the oddity, the mud splatters, the pushed hair, the proving, the travels, the nine to five, the uncertainty. I am standing above it, (and not just because I get to wear stilettos now) and I am adaptable. I feel my past is this big bag of experiences that I can use now, plucking out life lessons at will, helping me in everyday life.
The older I get, the more I know how to grow, turn the other cheek, communicate better, live fearlessly or fix a tap. I even know the wise small ways to keep depression at bay. I feel this ripening in me – and I love it. My berry ripening. I love growing older more than I can say. I see myself in years to come with crinkly old skin, smiling that deep satisfied smile of a woman who has fought her battles and won. Who knows that lovely dazy feeling of her past integrating and her happiness being balanced. I can only imagine the roundness, the final completion and joining of all my parts, the curvy berry roundness of old age to come.
- Bella Vendramini