I’ve finally left age 38 behind, good riddance. 2020 was hardly in the running to be anyone’s favorite year. Now I’m 39. A much more pleasing number, but we all know what looms next.
As I’ve been pondering aging, there have been a few incidences that pull my self-image one way or the other….aside from the obvious mirror, which shows my first grey hair and the deepening furrows between my brows (stop frowning, Molly!).
Old #1: Milo turned 10 last week.
Young #1: We went to Jellie Park, a Christchurch Council swimming pool, one recent hot day before school started. So did half the moms and kids in Christchurch.
We all wore our swim suits to the pool to avoid the changing rooms, me in my new pink-lined speedo which recently replaced my old sagging togs. I staked out a section of grass by spreading out our towels, and went to swim a couple laps while the kids did the hydroslides. Milo gets cold easily, and I found him back on the towels warming in the sun. He glanced up at me in surprise as I plunked myself down next to him. “Oh, I thought you were some teenager,” he exclaimed. Having spent the morning in close observation of body types of all ages, I’ll take that as a compliment.
Old#2: I recently hiked to Lake Morgan on the west coast, and my quads were sore for a week afterwards. Either I’m less fit than I used to be, or my body’s recovery time is increasing with old age….or both.
Fun fact: “greywackle” is the grey sedimentary sandstone I’m familiar with from much of the southern alps. When it is deeply buried and heated, greywacke is converted to a flaky rock called schist. The western side of the alps has been uplifted more than the east, so the deeper layers that contain schist are revealed there.
“My legs aren’t too bad,” I stated, optimistically massaging my quads. “It’s the down that gets me.” Even as I said it, I remember my grandparents saying the same thing, a fact that as I child I found frankly implausible.
Young#2: One day recently I was rounding the corner to meet the kids on their way home from school.
“Hey, careful with your old mazzer!” I protested. “You’re not old!” Naomi rejoined, exercising her appreciation for precision and love of contradiction at the same time.
Old#3: Milo was reading his library book when he picked his head up and fired out what seemed like a random question:
“Back when I was a kid—in the days before the internet, and before we all had cell phones—we used to have a book that you could use to look up people’s phone numbers by their last name.” Describing it that way, the phone book days seemed very very long ago.
“Could you tear on in half?” he asked, and suddenly I understood the context of the question in relation to the comic book. “No, not me, they were massive.”
Young #3: Actually, I can’t think of one. I suppose that puts me squarely in the middle of old and young. Embrace middle-age, baby!