April 7th, 2008

turned back

GROWING OLD IS MANDATORY, GROWING UP IS OPTIONAL*

I have, and have had, so much to do that I keep forgetting I've done things. I've always been proud of my memory but it seems to be failing me more and more lately. Or rather, I suppose it's I who have overburdened it so badly that it's staggered and fallen to its knees (beneath my hairline). My memory has fallen and it can't get up!

When do I start worrying about Alzheimers? When does the Part-heimers cross the line? When I can't remember who I am? Where I'm supposed to be? Which of my children has a birthday in July? When I find the milk in the pantry and the cereal in the freezer? When I walk into a room and suddenly stop because I can't remember what I came in there for? Oh wait, I've been doing that for years.

Ugh. It's an uncomfortable feeling, nonetheless.

What consequence of aging do you fret over most? And don't tell me you don't fret about aging, regardless of how young you are. Even if you think that things are better now then they ever were before, there must be somethings that make you pause and hrm to yourself. Maybe it's the creakiness with which you climb out of bed, or the fact that your glasses have more than one setting, or how those darn kids mumble: EH? SPEAK UP!

Maybe it's the way you turn all Roger "I'm too old for this shit" Murtaugh-ish when your children drag you on some crazy escapade. Or how you start yawning at 9 p.m. when once you could have stayed up talking all night. Maybe the fretting only hits you when you have to congratulate a colleague on her TWENTIETH birthday. Or when an acquaintance remarks that he was in kindergarten when Challenger exploded.

But I think one of the hardest things about aging is the realization that inside I am still the same. The same as I was when I was a child, at least to a great extent. The same as I was as a teenager, the same as a young woman. Even though I have changed and grown and learned, my self doesn't feel any older to me. And it's a strange thought to know that even when I am 60 or 70 or 80, that will still be true. I'll still feel like my SELF, young and able to do anything, but my body will have other ideas and will call me whippersnapper and tell me to get off the lawn.

Cracking Me Up: When Stereotypes Come to Life

*Chili Davis