As I mentioned on my side bar, I am reading "Water for Elephants." It is a good book; I am only on chapter 8, a champion reader I am not! But it goes back and forth between the current 90 something year old Jankowski and his memories as a 23 year old in the circus.
The chapters of his life in his nursing home he talks rather bluntly about the indignity of it all. His resentment of being spoken to like a child, or the feeling that he is outdated, and his experiences are not interesting to anyone anymore. He realized that the whole world is talking around him, but he was no longer a part of the conversation. I was getting so uncomfortable reading it, and then I realized, I am scared to death of getting old.
I don't how this crept up on me. Perhaps it is watching my 90 something year old Grandmother, and taking care of her, or maybe it is my jaunts on Facebook and having my past life staring me in the face I am not sure, I do know however, that it seems like yesterday I was 20 something and wondering how my life would unfold. Suddenly 15 years has gone by like a blip on a radar screen, and I think wow, I am going to be thankful if this is my half way point.
I can remember my pastor saying that there is a switch that goes off, somewhere in your late thirties to early forties where you all of the sudden stop counting the years you have lived, and instead count down the years you have left. I was all indignant and thought that was the most depressing thing anyone had ever said to me. I thought that I would never be that way, I would live as intensely as I ever had, feeling like it would never end…but I guess in the end, it just sneaks up on you. Like it has been lurking in dark corners and secret passage ways your whole life and all of the sudden it pops out into the sunlight to trip you up.
I laughed when my father called me after his 50th high school reunion. His response to walking in and seeing everyone was "where did all these old people come from?" I just laughed as he went on his diatribe of how no one had discovered Lady Clairol and there needed to be a cane rack in the front hall. But knowing the whole time, that he has a point. I have a similar reaction to my friends on Facebook.
We have all posted pictures of us and our families. We laugh at our re-crooked teeth, joking about our lines and Botox. We joke about our receding hairlines (some which have long since retreated) and "baby bellies." We post old pictures of ourselves together in our teens at dances and trips we took together, and we laugh at how young we were. We laugh, but with an undertone of disconcertment....when did we turn into our parents?
I look at these teenage pictures of myself. I look into those eyes and I remember her, but barely. Somehow those years of my life seem more like a movie now. I remember them, but they are not tangible...almost like words on the tip of my tongue that I just can’t spit out.
What a different person I am, but ultimately? I Still feel like I am only 20 something…sometimes it feels surreal when I look at my 10 year old daughter and think…wow, I am old enough to have a 10 year old daughter? That has to be illegal in some states!
I wouldn't trade it, I wouldn't want to BE that person that I was, self-absorbed, overly dramatic, and ALWAYS right...but then, I guess I would love to have that feeling again...That feeling of complete wonder, about how things were going to go...would I have children? What would I do for work? Where would I live? Back then anything seemed possible. Living overseas and teaching English in a third world country, or being a famous author seemed like a totally logical progression to my life...living in Maine with three kids?…not so much.
I understand that this is life. This is our journey, and I guess it should make me smile that I have had one that makes me recognize the beauty that this world has to offer, and the desire to suck as much of it up as I can. I guess for that, I am eternally thankful. But as I sit here typing…I am still wondering, When did this happen, and how did I get here?