I've never been one to bemoan getting older, nor even to fear it. Not really. I appreciate the wisdom (slim though it may be) that comes with each year lived - things attempted, mistakes made, lessons learned. I've never felt old, just more seasoned. Never old.
Last week I turned 35. To be sure, I still don't feel old. Not physically. Not even mentally. Maybe a tad weathered, emotionally-speaking. But not old.
Then I remembered things. Things about my parents. Memories I have of my parents. And the fact that I am now as old as my parents were in those memories.
This realization really did stop me in my tracks. I felt stunned. I'm not sure I'm conveying the severity of this or even accurately explaining the situation. I was born when my parents were 30, 32ish. Up until now all my knowledge - all of my memories - of my parents as old as I have been (from birth to 34 & 364 days) have been through pictures. Stories. Conjecture. Family lore. I wasn't actually there, to my knowledge. And even when I was there I was only an infant, a toddler. I didn't remember.
UNTIL NOW. I remember EVERYTHING. (Okay, not everything. But I remember lots of things.) I remember them being as old as I am now, and now I feel... old.
Except not really old. I feel like I should feel old, because I am old, but somewhere along the line I missed the class where everyone learns how to be a grown up and do grown up things (like own a house and be a parent and have a 401k - even though I do/have all of those things).
Actually no, I don't have a 401k. Do I? Hmm. I think it's a Roth. Anyway. *
When I was 7 or 8 years old I went with my dad ot his 20 year high school reunion. It was 1990. I remember playing the kids games. I remember meeting my dad's old friends and their kids. I remember the pictures we took - I still have them. My own 20 year high school reunion is coming up. It's 3 years away (2020). My dad was only 38 in 1990? Oh my.
The thing is, I remember my mom and dad being larger than life. Smarter than anyone. Totally informed and in control of everything. They obviously knew how to parent. They obviously knew about proper bedtimes and the correct ratio of original bedtime stories to bedtime books and how to handle difficult work colleagues and, well, you get the idea. I trusted my parents to know everything necessary about every possible thing in the universe (because I was little - who else would I trust?). And their ages when I was placing all of my ever-so-confident trust in these juggernauts of adulthood? Mid-30s.
My age now.
Holy guacamole, Batman.
Another funny realization I had involved my stepdad, John. I remembered him being about 36 when we met. I asked him if that was true the other day and he said actually I was 34, your mom was 39. BAH! He was the oldest, most adultish ever. And now I'm older than he was. Does someone think I'm the oldest, most adultish ever? Do the young adults I work with think I'm the oldest, adulty-est ever? Am I OLD???
I wear leggings and yoga pants in public and to work. I don't always do my hair. Exactly zero of my work blouses have shoulder pads. Also, I have zero work blouses. I have zero pairs of high heels (no matter, my mom would say they are impractical and not ergonomic anyway). I have taught zero jazzercise classes. I never play racquetball. I hate GrapeNuts.
I do take fiber supplements. I do have a job where people ask me important things and seem to think my opinion has merit. I do keep a balanced budget. I do have a retirement plan. I do do many grown-up, adult-like things.
Maybe the problem is that my measure for reaching adulthood is based on an old model (1980s).
It's a legitimate phenomena, though, this feeling that we aren't really that old. That we aren't as old as the older people we remember. If you showed me my first grade yearbook I bet I'd still think that 6th grader Summer Mallory was the coolest, oldest person I ever knew/anyone could possibly be. (She had poofy 80s bangs and acid-washed jeans. See? I knew you'd agree. Cool. Also, she is STILL cool today, just a few years later, but without the poofy bangs. As far as I can see on Instagram at least.)
Our models for growing up always stay the same age they were in our memory, even though we grow up and they continue to grow up and the world changes and everything changes. For a universe in which everything changes all the time, those early-born ideas and memories sure are steadfast.
I guess all of this is to say, Yikes. I really am getting older. My soul doesn't feel old, but seasoned. And I'm realizing that my parents weren't gods (I mean, I learned that a long time ago, but it's hitting home in a more powerful, useful way this time around). They were and remain human, brave travelers on this long and winding path called life in this crazy, transient world. For me, that means I'm okay. I'm human too. I'm learning as I go, doing the best I can.
So I'll hold on to my youthful mindset with my weathered soul, and try to be a littler gentler with my knees. The body just isn't what it used to be, you know?
*Worry not. I do actually know where all my retirement investments are and what they are and how much to invest and what I'll need to successful hit my target year 2045. See? I even know what Target Year means.