What can you promise your older self?

I pulled my ass off the couch today, cheek by cheek, and went to the gym. My legs still felt like they had 50 pound boulders strapped to them since running an esteemed Portland athletic event a couple of days ago. So going to the gym today was less of an upkeep and general maintenance effort, and more of a restorative, blood-flow-encouraging endeavor. Plus, I could sit in the steam room and try to melt the boulders off my thighs. The cottage cheese, of course, would remain.

So with 2 valiant miles on the treadmill under my belt and feeling sufficiently melted, I meandered stark naked back to my locker, a thoroughly saturated towel in my hand (because that's what happens when you don't pay attention to where you're setting your towel to rest in a steam room ...). I couldn't dry myself off. And I was going to have to wriggle back into my sweaty gym clothes before heading home to shower. So I sat on the bench to drip dry for a second before attempting sweaty skin to lycra contact.

Now it's not okay to stare. Pretty much ever. But I tend to do it anyway. Tim gives me the best people-watching seat always, cause if he didn't my eyeballs would just laser directly through him anyway. But staring in a gym locker room is not really a place that I people watch. At least not on purpose. But as I was sitting there dripping dry, holding dirty socks in my hand, my gaze met a tattooed calf just across the aisle. The tattoo snaked up the leg, so my gaze followed. Up and up and up climbed a flowering vine in black and gray shades, ending about an inch below the hip of a woman nearly double my age. Her gaze then caught mine and I immediately looked away and began to stuff myself inside a damp sports bra.

Shit. Why didn't I acknowledge her and say "your leg is awesome"? If I was 70 years old and some strange naked chick in dirty laundry told me my leg was awesome I'd be pumped. I'd tell my 65 year old boyfriend about it over dinner. I'd post a picture of it and tag it #myawesomeleg. I'd make it my Christmas card. Damn. I really should have told her. Probably no sense in me making a sign to hang at the gym.

I came home and de-grossed myself with a trip to the laundry hamper and then the shower. I caught a glimpse of my own creeper self in the mirror (see? I stare at annnnybody.). And it occurred to me that maybe now would be a good time to make a promise to my older self. Or at least to start a list of potential promises so that either 1) I'll grow to be the old lady of my dreams or 2) I'll have a definitive point in time that I can blame if I don't.

Dear Old Lady Kelli. Here's some promises I'm thinking about making so that you turn out fairly rad:

1. I promise to floss.
2. I promise to cut back on coffee so that your eye bags don't look like fleshy pockets filled with mud.
3. I promise to exercise.
4. I promise to put myself in puzzling situations so that my mind stays alert and open and my tongue stays ready to lash out or be bitten back, depending on the situation.
5. I promise to wear gray hair as a badge of beauty, time and growth.
6. I promise to always have a dog.
7. I promise to eat healthy but to make toast for dinner if that's what I damn well feel like.
8. I promise to never turn down a glass of wine when it's poured for me. Or to finish someone else's if they don't.
9. I promise to always be ridiculous, to wear ridiculous clothes, to do ridiculous things, and to delight in ridiculous people.
10. I promise to not complain about getting older. It is the only thing in life that I know for certain will happen to me.

We make promises to everybody. Our boss, our partner, our kids, our pets, our insurance guy. But now's a good time to make promises to our future selves. To pick a point in the future and imagine being there, elegantly aged, surrounded by flamingos on a stucco rooftop in Puerto Rico or wherever the hell flamingos live, and then write down the promises that might help that happen.


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