I’m not 45. I mean, I am, but I am NOT. If you’re only as young as you feel, then I’m definitely 27. Maybe 32. It was only yesterday that I hit the double digits! Ten was a magical year. It felt so cool to young, but old enough to have two digits to my age. Now I’m someone who may have more years behind me than I do in front. It’s not getting old that scares me, it’s death. I’ll get to that later.
This suspended belief about my age could become a problem, or it could start to piss people off, because I think everyone is older than me. This has happened more than twice in the past year. The first was when I took my first Orangetheory class. I had heard the workout was super hard, and I was feeling intimidated, when I looked to my right and saw a group of women on a row of treadmills. The inconspicuous sidelong glances I threw their way assuaged my fears. “If they can do this, I can. They are old.” Two minutes later, Coach Victoria started blasting the music.
“IIIIIIIt’s 90’s week, Everybody!! Let’s rock it out to the Spin Doctors!” (You know what’s coming. The “yeeeaaah one, two princess here before me, let’s go ahead now,” your head is bobbing) The next thing I know, the “old” women next to me are whooping, high fiving, waving hands in the air, and screaming, “College baby! WOOT WOOT!”
I almost face planted on the treadmill belt. The Spin Doctors performed at Fordham my sophomore year. Two Princess blared at every bar, every night. My college roommate, Francesca, still sends me texts with the picture of the song blaring on Sirius XM.
I had to shrug it off. Denial is survival for us ignorant middle agers. These women had to be seniors when I was a sophomore, right?
The next time it happened was at a work function, the perfect place for me to put my foot in my mouth. It was holiday season, and I attended our annual “gathering,” (I don’t think we’re allowed to say party), at a local restaurant. Christmas angels must have been watching over me because I had decided not to drink, which is not the norm for me at any gathering. It must have been the daunting commute home that deterred me, and thank god it did, because if I had swilled two glasses of pinot noir, things may have turned out differently. I was politely listening to a co-worker I didn’t know very well drone on and on about how tired she was. Her two kids were going through a phase, they weren’t going to bed, they were fighting, and she had no idea how she was going to get all her grading done when she had to play referee. Between sips of sparkling water, I nodded and made the mature noise that communicates universal agreement. I was thinking she’s probably tired from talking so much, when I heard her exclaim:
“And I’m getting too old for this. I mean, I’m 39 – imagine what it’s going to be like when I turn 40?!?”
Everyone laughed, patted her arm, and told her she’s not old. I stood there like a prize carnival fish, eyes wide and plastered against my temporary baggie home. This woman, this sweet, well intentioned woman, was FIVE years younger than me. I thought she was going to say she was at least 50! You can understand why I was happy to be sober, for once.
I’m not telling this story to poke fun at other people, but more so myself. Once in a while, my age smacks me in the face and reminds me that I’m not so cool, especially to people who are seriously younger than me, like my students – or millenials.
I try to think that getting old is good because it means I’m not dead, which is really never happening. Starting to lose my breath just typing about it. I’ll be happy as one of those old, eccentric women who wears elaborate clothing, drinks champagne, and calls people “dahling.” For all I know, people may see like that right now. I don’t see that myself, but then again, I could just be old and delusional.