I know that age is all relative and when you're complaining about being old at 30 there are 60 year olds to laugh at you, and then 90 year olds to laugh at the 60 year olds. There will always be someone around to tell you that you don't know what you're talking about, that you have no idea what ten more years on the shelf will do to your outlook. I think everyone has moments of feeling young and old, no matter how ludicrous or unfounded it might be in the given situation. Seeing my grandparents in Spain this Christmas made me think about aging, how it creeps up and takes your sight, or your hips, or your mind without giving you the slightest defense. Well, I suppose there is Viagra and botox.
Last night, hanging out with friends and friends of friends, I found myself in a conversation with a student from Boston. He told me that he'd been seriously considering coming up to Canada to finish his degree, confessing the usual financial woes of an American looking at 'good' universities. I told him good things about Montreal and Toronto respectively, having grown up in Vancouver and therefore comprising an opinion unsullied by the vicious rivalry between the two cities. He spoke about the things he didn't like in American universities and I agreed that frats and sororities were not my thing either --all the more reason to apply in Canada.
"So how much time left do you have in your degree?" he asked.
"Actually I graduate this semester," I said cheerfully.
His eyes widened and I felt all of a sudden conscious of a gap, some rift between where he saw himself and where he saw me. I felt old but wanted to assert the opposite.
"Well how old are you?" I asked, assuming we'd be more or less the same.
"I'm a youngin', just 18," he smiled.
"Oh yeah, I'm 21, me too."
He looked at me with eyebrows furrowed and I realized that 21 was not part of the youngin' club in his books.
"Oh wow," he said quietly, and in that reply I crumbled a little inside.
Oh wow? Does my age really merit that kind of gasp? I wanted to bust out a handstand or a cart wheel and scream, DON'T WORRY I STILL GOT IT!But of course the night carried on more or less the same while I pretended I wasn't completely horrified by his response.
My friend admitted to me the other night that he was worried --worried that he was maturing, or worse, growing up. He told me how he sometimes turns down nights of drinking just to go see a movie alone, a movie alone he repeated embarrassedly. I consoled him by confessing that I suspect much the same in myself, that lately I've been overwhelmed with thoughts of stability and the future.
But today is a new day. I woke up early and made my way to the rocking chair in the parlor. I told Mable and Betty about that silly whipper snapper at the bar who thought I was an old fart, and sipped gingerly on my prune juice.