13 Going on 34

I’m sure there are a ton of kids who, like Tom Hanks before them, spent their childhoods just wanting to be Big. Kids who had dreams of a life with no bedtime where they could have candy for every meal and not have to deal with adults on power trips. I never wanted to grow up faster because time was always moving faster than I wanted it to anyway. Now I am grown up, reaching that point in my 30s where any friends that don’t have kids and want them start to get that look in their eyes that I remember from my early 20s at last call at the bar. Some of them have stopped liking their own birthdays and others are bemoaning the first appearance of gray hair. Maybe it’s because I don’t want kids and don’t have any gray yet that I never gave any real thought to my aging until yesterday when something kinda funny/not funny happened.

I was on a mini road trip with one of my oldest guy friends when we were talking about how shitty Hollywood treats older actresses vs how Hollywood and everyone ever treats aging dudes. Then I must have said something about my age which prompted him to ask how old I was. “How old do you think I am?” I asked, joking because we had been friends since I was 18 and he was 24 and that should have given him my age within a year depending on his memory. Note that this particular friend has a very good memory, having reminded me that same day of the fact that the first time we met I was wearing a leather jacket. “Oh Jesus Christ, a leather jacket?” I moaned. “Who did I think I was- Tori from Saved by the Bell?” “I was gonna say Jo from The Facts of Life,” he replied. Oh good, much cooler.

But my friend’s memory failed to the tune of guessing a full six years younger than I am. “28?” he asked. After establishing that he was not kidding, I set him straight. I am 34, flirty and thriving (yeah not the same ring it has at 30, J Garn). Somehow him guessing my age as so much younger made me feel really old. “I look awful for 28,” I said. “But you look great for 34,” was his reply.

The number itself is not really my issue. The issue is that my age is starting to correlate with changes that mean I can’t do things as well as I used to and it’s hard not to think about a time way down the road when I look 72 but am 85 when I won’t be able to do them at all. I can’t see as well when I go shooting, I can’t go to a trendy bar and not feel like I look a little desperate and sad, I can’t have a really good visit with my parents and not worry about a time when I won’t be able to visit with them.

Still I guess the experience was good once I came around to the fact that looking younger is a goodish thing and I can’t actually control my age. But I can control what I do with my time, with my dwindling youth and I choose to spend it having as much fun as I can with all the friends/loved ones I’ve racked up over 34 years. I can spend it staying up as late as I want, eating junk food for breakfast, playing video games for hours with no one to tell me to go outside and then going outside and lying in the hammock for hours with no one telling me to come inside. I’ve put every one of my years thus far to good use and gotten to a great place. Six years ago I was not this happy, this self-aware, this ready for whatever comes next.

So here’s to us, whatever age we are or look making the most out of however much time we have left.

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