Time to fight gravity

The big four zero beckons for Charlotte Rietveld as she contemplates where the years have flown.

In Home Block5 Minutes

The big four zero beckons for Charlotte Rietveld as she contemplates where the years have flown.

AS 2022 ROLLS ON, I FIND MYSELF on the cusp of turning 40. As a mid-Canterbury-dwelling multi-generational dryland hill-country back-blocks inhabitant merrily farming the nation’s least trendy sheep, I’m quite sure I’ve been 40 since I was 20.

Possibly the last surviving member of my generation to care where an apostrophe ought to be, I am equally steadfast in considering vegan shoes an abomination, can provide a full rendition of ‘Guide me O Thy Great Redeemer’ should the need arise and a boiled fruit cake remains my go-to baking staple.

Despite polling booth disloyalty and a wavering philosophy, I place adamant faith in the life-enduring abilities of both a woollen singlet and a hot cup of tea. Unfortunately my appearances have been far more modern in their advances, for which I squarely blame the cruel nor’wester. That and gravity have a lot to answer for.

While ‘over the hill’ is surely these days just beginning the ascent, it remains a life-assessing milestone and the 40 I’m seeing is not quite the destination I had in mind.

How can it be that I reach this pinnacle of age and still not tie a bowline with ease? Exactly when does one finally understand the machinations of foreign exchange? And just how did I end up in no-man’s-land of both inelegant hand-writing and the technology skills of your average superannuitant?

I was quite sure by now I’d be au fait cooking with quinoa and know how to make shoe-sounding jus with ease, but both still evade me.

As it seems to with all of us, age has slyly snuck up on me. The day one acknowledges that ‘smalls’ is no longer an accurate term for one’s undergarments is rather a depressing time. It seems that before you know it, risqué is trumped by practicalité, one clothes peg has morphed into a definite two and you’ve arrived worshipping the shrine of spandex.

Beguiling of its suburban contents, I’ve realised the ol’ top drawer has become surprisingly corporate when form and function, critical focus and downsizing become guiding principles of the underwear department.

Alas the ravages of time have not stopped at one’s foundation garments. I now find myself thinking purple is a perfectly sensible colour to wear and that ‘fun’ shoes might be just the ticket.

While the stilettos sit gathering dust, underwear is not the only division heading commercial. Contrary to geography, selecting farm jeans these days has become all about the high-rise.

While fashion and town-planning trends may have some part to play, fighting gravity to maintain property rights is quite another. Leaving good enough alone is no longer sufficient, shapewear has become an essential worker.

Yet this is without even mentioning the skincare regime. The ozone layer may be on the road to repair but my Scottish complexion took an alternate route. This detour occurred about a decade ago, the same time my well-intention mother handed me a newspaper cutting entitled ‘Women can freeze their eggs’.

Not only did that up the ante to find a bloke, it also escalated the sunscreen spf-factor. Ten years on the confluence gets nearer – the spf factor has remained at 50, my years have advanced and gravity has too. No doubt one of these days I’ll have to acknowledge that I am weak, but thankfully spf, spandex and high-rise jeans art mighty.