The Slow-Cooked Sentence

I am 40, now

Rachael Conlin Levy

I can’t weave straw into gold, but I can make threads of silver. It surprises me, each strand sparkling brilliantly against the duller browns. I hadn’t expected to enjoy turning gray.


I’m reading “Crime and Punishment.” For some reason I’d never read it before, but then there are so many classic novels I’ve never read, and when I finally begin my reaction is always the same. My gosh, this is good. It’s so good, so much better than this book or that book that I just wasted my time on. Why have I waited so long to read this? Then I go around telling everyone how great this novel is, as if I’m the first to discover it, when really, I shouldn’t be surprised. It’s why they’re classics, after all.

Anyway, I had picked up “Crime and Punishment” again, the night of my birthday (long after song and candles and brownies had been sung, extinguished, devoured), when these sentences made me pause. I re-read them.

For although Mrs. Raskolnikov was forty-three, her face still preserved traces of its former beauty. Besides, she looked much younger than her years, which is almost always the case with women who keep their serenity of mind, the freshness of their impressions, and a pure and sincere warmth of heart to their old age. We may add in parenthesis that to possess all this is the only way a woman can preserve her beauty even in old age. Her hair was already beginning to grow thin and grey, crows’-foot wrinkles had long ago appeared round her eyes, her cheeks were hollow and shrunken from anxiety and grief, but her face still remained beautiful.

It’s an odd feeling, learning that Dostoyevsky would’ve considered me old.

4 responses to “I am 40, now”

  1. anno says:

    from a long-time lurker… happy birthday.

  2. Rachael Levy says:

    Thank you, Caroline.

    Anno, I'm so happy to meet you!


  3. mochiv says:

    i am loving that you are back to blogging. happy birthday sister. xo

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