Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The Blink of an Eye

As I've mentioned before, Ty is twelve years older than me. We first started dating when I was in my early twenties. At this time, we were subjected to a decent amount of ribbing from our friends over the age difference. I didn't mind; most of it made me feel like a catch.

A year or two later, C.S. and I were sitting together on the subway, facing each other, deep in conversation. In the midst of our chatter, she paused, and pulled a long silver hair from my head. My first gray. A different kind of ribbing ensued, and I had a mini-mid-life crisis that day.

A few years after that, I went to, shall we say, a specialty doctor for, ahem, a certain kind of blockage that had never before affected me. He reassured me that it was nothing serious--"it's just that, well, you're not as young as you once were, and these sorts of things start to happen as you age."

I was recently invited to a party. I contemplated it; it sounded cool, and I thought about what I might wear to it, and then it occurred to me:

I will probably be the oldest person at this party.

We spend so much of our lives wanting to be older so that we can drive, and vote, and get the special privileges granted only to those of a certain age. Once we're there, we basically have around five or six years of real youth in the midst of being of age. It's the blink of an eye. I guess I was a bit cognizant of it at the time--whenever I was debating whether to do something fun and mildly selfish, my catchphrase was, "You don't get these years back"--but reality started to hit me pretty hard in my mid-twenties. I really wasn't going to be that young forever. Already, there were sexy starlets, in magazines and on television, that had been born in the 1980's. Unbelievable.

As I've gotten better and more experienced in my work and better and more experienced in my writing, I've started to enjoy getting older with significantly more gusto. There is a lot to be said for being taken seriously. I enjoy being asked for advice by younger men and women. I've become more conscious of my body and my health, and have started taking better care of both. So, I now have to add fiber-gram consciousness and sunblock-spiked hand cream to the list of things to think about, instead of just toenail attractiveness and removal of unnecessary body hair. It's not so bad.

My advice to young twentysomethings is this: Enjoy your youth. Take care of your body. Nurture your skills, so you have something wonderful to focus on as your body starts to get older. But, don't be scared. Things don't start to suck. They just become good in different ways.


Blogger DebbieDoesLife said...

My husband and I had years of being the "young couple" and it was shocking to discover we are no longer that.

When you are living it, it seems that it will go on forever. I couldn't even imagine being out of my 20's. Now I have entered the 40's. I still FEEL the same but must admit to some changes in the landscape.

Your post is a nice way to look at it and value growing older for what it is.

9:28 AM  
Anonymous V-Grrrl said...

Most of the time, I so appreciate where I am psycholically at 44 that the physical changes don't bother me.

But there are days when the veiny legs and papery skin and seriously thickened waist shock me. Yes, SHOCK me.

As Debbie said, I feel the same but sometimes I feel I'm trapped in someone else's body--and it freaks me out.

10:13 AM  
Blogger Mignon said...

Last night I was lying in bed thinking, for the first time this year I'm not specifically looking forward to my birthday. At 34 years old, I think it will be time to put away the cargo shorts and shower more than twice a week.

It seems it doesn't matter what you say to 20-somethings, they never truly appreciate their youth.

10:31 AM  
Blogger Mrs. Harridan said...

My feelings are a mixture of the other commenters': I feel the same as I always did (plus a few aches and pains that I never expected to have at age 34), and I do feel a bit stunned/bummed out when the mirror shows me that my lack of sleep is evidenced by the suitcases under my eyes. How did this happen?

And like Mignon, I am not relishing the idea of being 35. Maybe it's because it feels too much like a milestone birthday. I had expected to have done more by this age. Even though I know intellectually that it's not, 35 feels old to me. Stupid, I know.

I think you have the right attitude, even for a young'un! It *is* nice to have life experience and be asked advice. It's nice to have learned a thing or two about oneself -- and about other people and what to expect from them (rather than always being clueless about other people's behavior, which was something that plagued me throughout my 20s).

Thought-provoking post, as always.

11:18 AM  
Anonymous TB said...

If I knew then what I know now, I would have gone around stark naked in my 20s.

11:48 AM  
Anonymous wordgirl said...

You speak the truth, Arabella! I was raised according to the military's "rank gets privilege" system and, in our family, rank meant "age". I've spent my life wanting to be older...until I didn't want to be older anymore. Being the age I am is what almost kept me from meeting you guys in Savannah. I see myself as "an older woman" everywhere I go and I HATE IT!! I have to say that I looked really, really good at 38. Like TB, I wish I had appreciated what I looked like...back when I had it.

12:14 PM  
Anonymous mamatulip said...

God, yes. Enjoy it, while you can. I started going grey after my mom died. And while I knew I wasn't old, I felt old. OLD. I look at my kids and the energy they have...I look at my brothers, in their late teens, on the cusp of their twenties, and I think, live it up, guys. Enjoy yourselves, because it goes by so fast.

1:35 PM  

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