On paper, one’s mid-thirties isn’t a particularly old age unless one is a cocker spaniel. Still, lately I have been becoming more and more aware of my current age and of all the ages yet to come. When I thought about it, I realized that there are an increasing number of milestones that keep encroaching into my consciousness to remind me of the oh-so-precious grains of sand that are constantly streaming through that throttled neck of my life’s hourglass. The first time I really felt old was probably the first time I noticed more than one gray hair at once, or maybe the lessening numbers of hairs in general. Or, it might have been the first time I realized that “joint pain” had become a regular feature in my daily regimen of complaints.
That said, there have been a number of “first times” that have made me vividly and depressingly aware of my mortality – and worse – of my inevitable habitation of Squaresville.
The first time I calculated how old I would be when my kids are [insert any age]
The first time I saw a doctor and wondered how s/he could be done with med school already
The first time I realized that professional athletes my age are usually retired
The first time I noticed movies that I had seen in theaters now had multi-decade anniversary edition DVDs
The first (and every) time I caught myself saying or thinking “When I was your age…”
The first time I eyed teenagers suspiciously from my living room window
The first time I realized my wife was living under the delusion that I was a year older than I was
The first time I avoided getting the newest tech so I wouldn’t have to learn all new stuff
The first time I had a hangover that lasted longer than a few hours
The first time I had a hangover that lasted all damn day
The first time I thought about how much time, money, and energy I’ve wasted over the years
The first time I actually read my monthly pension update
The first time I really, seriously, thought about how much I would give to do things differently throughout my life
The first time I looked at what He-Man figures were going for on eBay and wished I hadn’t sold mine for a quarter a pop when I was nine
There are more that I’m forgetting, and there will be more that I can’t predict. I know I’m not “old” by most people’s definition. I do know that I feel older than I am, and yet I simultaneously feel like I’m still in my twenties, invincible and relevant.