Growing Older: Reader Essay by Catherine Madison

From Minnesota Alumni Magazine Winter 2017

W2017_GrowingOlderCatherineMadison_Inline300 Thick ankles.

Where did those come from? They were slender when the young lieutenant I met the summer before college gave me a gold ankle bracelet with his name on it. I fastened it around my right ankle and pledged to never take it off. Even under pantyhose, it sparkled as I ran in the high heels I always wore to work and out dancing.

It tucked into my pom-pom socks when I played tennis.

It made me feel long-legged and svelte, which I was then, fond of kicking up my heels into the predawn hours at parties and proms and long walks along rivers on moonlit boulevards. Over time the skirts went from mini to midi and pleated to pencil, but the ankles stayed slim.

They bounced babies, shooed kittens, nudged puppies out the door. They slid into long fashion boots that zipped up the back. Lying on the floor in jazz dance class, I gazed up at them, twirling them one way—one, two, three, four—and then the other—five, six, seven, eight.

Pretty ankles. Pretty good ankles.

Then I sprained one on a hike to the Hollywood sign. The other I broke, just a small bone, not while hiking on the arduous Gunflint Trail, but by stumbling on a pebble on our front sidewalk the day we got home. They ache sometimes, yet still carry me on my daily rounds.

But where did the bracelet go? Missing, I guess. Gone away, like the high heels. The dance dates. The tennis. The babies. The job.

These days I linger before the mirror on the closet door, bewildered by what I see.

Thick ankles.

Girded with memories and creased by the sag of life passing, but slender inside. And still kicking.

- Catherine Madison (B.A. ’73), Minneapolis

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