I’m through saying “I’m so old.” Look, I don’t know how I got to thirty-nine this fast but, frankly, I’m old enough to realize that I’m young.
Let me explain.
Do you know who says “I’m so old”? People in their twenties. And they believe it, too. I know I did. But their frame of reference is off. In your early twenties, you find that all of the markers that had ruled your life are now gone. No more grades, semesters, or diplomas. Maybe you go to grad school but that just delays the inevitable feeling of being set adrift in a life boat, floating out to sea.
For a while, you look back at the shoreline feeling like you’re drifting further and further away. You don’t yet realize that saying “I’m so old” is a luxury. Yeah, when you’re twenty-seven, you’re pretty damn old… for a college student. As an adult human you’re still – if all goes well – pretty close to the beginning.
There are some markers in adulthood. But they come at different times for different people and they seem so much less significant. How old do I feel? I really have no idea. I’m losing my hair and my parents are gone but there are teenagers for whom that’s true.
I wear sneakers and jeans to work and I spend a fair amount of my time literally playing make believe but I also have a mortgage and a stable relationship. (That’s right, sweetie, “stable.” Sorry for the public romancing.)
I’ve had friends get divorced. I’ve had friends get sick. I’ve had friends pass away. In other words, I’ve watched my peers go through things that I always thought happened to other people that I didn’t know.
None of these details make me feel like an adult but I do, in fact, feel like one. I guess the only way that I can explain it is that I feel like I’ve turned around in the life boat. I’m not looking back at the shoreline anymore, I’m looking ahead. To what, I don’t know but ahead none the less.
So, I’m done saying “I’m so old.” Not when I see people in their seventies traveling the world, not when I know people who are living day to day with cancer. I don’t have heart disease. My eyesight is twenty twenty. I can run three miles and my knees and back are okay. A physician has yet to tell me to stop eating red meat. My hands don’t hurt when I try to open a jar.
That’s also the draw back to facing forward, you can start to see all the things that are coming for you.
But not today. Today I feel young.
I mean, at least until next year when I turn forty and, man, that is crazy fucked up old, you know what I mean?
Happy Birthday to me.