When did I get old?
“Do you know the guy who plays that character is 40 years old?” my husband, Justin, asked me from out of the blue one night last week.
I glanced up from my smartphone game (I was totally immersed in Bejeweled) and gave Justin a strange look. We were watching “The Big Bang Theory,” and Justin was referring to one of the main characters with his comment.
The look I gave Justin must have confused him because he then repeated as if I hadn’t heard him the first time, “The guy who plays Sheldon, he’s almost 40.” He made it sound like 40 was 80.
I frowned. “Um, I’m 37.” I followed that statement with a pointed glare.
Justin immediately back-tracked. “No, I mean, aren’t they supposed to be playing really young people? I mean, aren’t these people supposed to be in their 20’s-or, well, how old do you think the characters are that they’re playing?” Clearly he knew he’d shuffled onto thin ice and was trying to not so delicately back his way off.
“Well are you implying that I couldn’t portray someone in her 20s?” I wanted to know.
This was serious danger time for Justin. Sirens were sounding. Any wrong word could result in severe and swift repercussions. Wisely, he said nothing, although I could see in his eyes that his brain was going about 10 million miles an hour trying to desperately figure out how he could possibly get out of this one.
Unfortunately, this comment made my own mind go 10 million miles an hour, and everything always came back to one question for which I did not have an answer: When did I get old?
Yes, yes, I know. Mid-30s is not old. It’s actually a great age period. You know what you want to do with your life, and you are well on your way to getting there-you are thriving and enjoying every minute of it.
But there’s a major drawback to this age as I see it. Mid-30s is sort of a black hole between the mid-20s (an exciting time of your life filled with new experiences) and the mid-40s (the time when you’re settled, you’ve matured and are living the life you’ve built for yourself). Both seem like great times, but something gets lost in the middle. You’re not quite where you need to be yet, but you’re too old to be where you were.
Age may be just a number, but I can easily remember some trips my sister, Rhonda, and I took many years ago. We always planned a yearly mini-vacation to Cedar Point-still one of our favorite places to go in the summer. We’d book a room at the Breakers and then buy two-day park passes. At the break of dawn, we’d head up to Sandusky so we could be at the park when it opened. We’d ride and walk around until the park closed and get up and do it all again the next day until dinner, when we’d start the three plus hour journey home. Somewhere along the line, we noticed our full day one turned into a half day. And then we noticed that second day turned into half of a half day, even if we didn’t make it to the park until the prior evening.
As children, my mom and grandma took my sister and I many places, Cedar Point included. When we were old enough, they’d just turn us loose in the park so we could do our thing. After we’d reconvene, we laughed at them when they told us they didn’t do much but ride the train around the park dozens of times. It was truly a sad day when my sister and I, on a trip about five years ago to Cedar Point, decided to take a break and ride the train around the park. We caved. We couldn’t help it. We simply did not have the energy to hightail it around the park for 10 solid hours one day and then get right back at it the next. It wasn’t much longer after that when our trips were filled with fond memories of “Remember when we used to be able to do this all day?”
Even clothing manufacturers seem to have it against us 30-somethings. I don’t know what’s going on with my washer and dryer, but I swear it’s shrinking my clothes around the waist! Is this happening to anyone else? And unfortunately, styles that used to look good on me now look like a pitiful attempt for me to hang on to my youth. Sparkly pink princess sweatpants with a glittery crown across the rear? No thanks. And unless you’re 12, you probably shouldn’t be wearing those.
On the flip side, maybe I don’t want to dress like a high schooler, but I also don’t want to dress like I’m 30 years older than I am. No, I don’t want to wear a two-sizes-too-big sweatshirt with a kitty cat in the middle. Elastic pants? To sleep in, yes. To wear in public, no. Here’s the unfortunate trend. Juniors clothes are too tight. Clothes for mature adults are too baggy. Maybe I should just wear a potato sack with leggings? I can cinch it up with a belt to define a waist for myself.
And it’s not like I have much patience to shop in department stores geared towards juniors anyway because the music is just way too loud. I came to this realization several years ago, thus rendering me into the “lame old person” category. I know I’m not in Abercrombie’s target market, and the store atmosphere is designed to annoy me to the point where I must leave to protect my sanity. Perhaps if I were 23, this store would appeal to me.
All these things can mean that I’m getting old, but I prefer to see them as my maturation into adulthood. Maybe standing in line at Cedar Point for hours waiting to ride a coaster doesn’t thrill me the way it used to. Perhaps I’m quite content to ride once and then hop the train through Cedar Point’s “Boneville.” And I just look silly in torn, tight jeans, so why not stick with those nicely cut dress pants that feel good and look good too? Maybe I like loud music, but it has to be music sung by non-teeny bopping pop artists-then I’ll blast it in my car and sing at the top of my lungs. I can be at ease with myself and with my life, not caring about what “everyone else” is doing. I can be me, and nobody can question that.
You know when you look at it that way, maybe mid-30s aren’t so bad after all. But I’m still not sure that’s going to stop me on my next birthday from telling everyone I’m celebrating the ninth anniversary of my 29th birthday.