My friend Jocelyn posted the link to this article today (How I Learned to Stop Explaining How Old Things Make Me Feel) and it really resonated. Especially the part where she says, “I know now that I was wrong to assume as a teenager that by this point I would feel like a different person, obviously, like someone who couldn’t possibly care about anything current, like someone who would not appreciate stupid jokes or experience lust or listen to good bands.”
With John turning 40 this week, we’ve been joking a lot out loud about getting old. But inside the anxiety rubs like a tiny pebble we can’t shake out of our shoe. John pointed out that turning 40 is fine in itself, except it means that in ten years we will be 50. And that just seems impossible for two 18 year olds who are still excited that we get to live together (hey, we grew up Catholic. Sharing space is exciting stuff).
On the drive out to tour Maker’s Mark on Monday, we missed our exit and had to use GPS on my phone to find an alternate route. Unfortunately the route it gave me was a one lane country road in the middle of nowhere. At some point John began to question if this was a real route to the distillery or if I was just taking him out into the middle of nowhere to put him out of his misery, now that he’s so old. “I’m not done with you yet,” I informed him. We reasoned that he has about 9 years and 364 more days until he’s not hot. It’s just an estimate.
Some things do make me feel old now, for example this afternoon when Cate very seriously requested to be dropped off at the mall so she could “hang out with friends and buy clothes.” um, no. But I can see the teenage years looming and that feels strange. And then some things make me feel very young, like this morning when Thomas politely asked me why I always, “play that punk rock music so loud.” (It was Paramore). I used to joke that living with Thomas is like living with a 40 year old. That joke doesn’t work as well now.
The thing is, whether I’m acting young or feeling old, I’m just me. I feel like exactly the same person I was at 18. I’m just a better version of myself.
I still obsess over books and movies, they’re just different books and movies. I still like to play a new album over and over, at full volume until I know all the lyrics by heart, I just download them on iTunes now instead of buying the cd. I’m still mostly a rule follower, I just know now that it’s not always possible or necessary. I still like to do things in my own time, it’s just that now it’s finally paying off.
And as for all this adult responsibility I have now that I’m older, I actually like that, too. I love the feeling of owning my own business and defining my terms; I enjoy my children and all that comes with raising a family immensely; and I don’t mind at all the wisdom of knowing it doesn’t matter what other people think. These things come with age.
So I think I’ll take a tip from the author of that article. I’m going to stop referencing my age, out loud and in my own head. I’m going to stop meeting the new babysitter and calculating if I am old enough to be their mother. I’m going to listen to both Tears for Fears AND Lorde’s version of “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” and I’m not going to feel compelled to tell someone how old I was when the original was released.
Because I’m not 39 or 18. I’m infinity.