The opportunity to grow old is itself a privilege that many people will not have. But, it brings with it all kinds of things that won’t be privileges, particularly the increasing risk of illness and disability. Your life expectancy, and your quality of life as an older person will be very much informed by your wealth.
For much of human history, life expectancy was about thirty years. So here I am in my mid forties, ancient by the standards of most of my ancestors, middle aged by modern standards, and wondering what lies ahead. After a year of relentless health problems, I feel much older than I am. Thanks to those same health problems, I also don’t look it. Hypermobility often gifts people with younger looking skin, while taking away mobility.
If you’re female-presenting, aging is traditionally a process of becoming invisible and irrelevant. There are no road maps for aging non-binary people. The menopause is cheerfully increasing my chances of growing a beard, while thinning my head hair. It’s not a very sexy take on being nonbinary, but its what I’ve got. I may have to rethink my visual presentation. I may not bother.
I’m not one of those people who will wonder if, as an older person, they will dare to wear purple. I’ve always been fairly outlandish. I’m thinking more in terms of swamp-goblin for my future self. I’m not really cute cottage-core granny material, I’m definitely on more of a scary witch in the forest trajectory. I have no intention of aging with dignity or grace, and I hope I can get more outspoken, outlandish and unreasonable as I go.
I’m fortunate in that I have spaces where my getting older will not disappear me. Writing is traditionally the work of older people, so long as I can jab a keyboard or mutter into a device, I can tell stories. The steampunk community is an all ages one and will allow me to be as outlandish as I like. The Pagan scene is pretty good at including older people even if the visuals are still far too focused on the sexy young women. As a swamp goblin, I shall be able to work on this.
I’ve run into goblin-core as a concept and I like it greatly. Embrace the decay, the autumn, the mess. Embrace the toadstools and the cemeteries, the spiders, bugs and moths. It’s like goth, only it doesn’t call for being young and sexy – and there are increasing numbers of old goths who are no doubt moving towards more of a goblin aesthetic.
As a child, I didn’t realise how far my maternal grandmother was from the pearl and twinset permed hair norms of old ladies at the time. She was colourful, her dress style was androgenous, she did what suited her. I’m lucky in that I have some sort of role model there. She kept going in every way she could, despite a body that was clearly very hard work to live in. She fought to keep her mind sharp and her life interesting. It’s a good set of things to aspire to.