Tuesday, January 02, 2007

On Age

There are several cassette tapes of me recorded when I was young. This was my graduate student family's answer to most people's home movies. One of them records me, on or near my 5th birthday, being interviewed by my father. I discuss in a very serious voice my concerns about my readiness to take on the new age. I think this was the first year I'd noticed the correlation between age and maturity. I felt unfit to advance--no older than I'd felt as a four-year-old last week. I evaluated my actions and feelings and came up short.

Nearly ever since, however, I have felt older than my age. Sometimes only a year or two, sometimes many years. People generally assume I'm older than I am. Most of my friends are older than me, some a decade older. Now rather than coming up short in my behavior, I come up short in age. I desire a validity of years that continually eludes me.

I thought being in my 20s would provide my needed fix. I was a grown-up, a wife and a mother. But then I was thrilled to turn 30. I no longer had to be embarrassed that I was just in my 20s--practically a kid still. Now I'm pinning for my late 30s or even my 40s to be taken seriously as an established adult with experience and maybe even some wisdom. I can't say I'm excited about straggling grey hairs or the beginnings of crepe-y skin around my eyes and neck, but there is certainly a way in which it is something to be proud of, something to perhaps mention in conversation if the topic arises.

I suppose that for me the grass is always greener a few years older than my current age, odd as that sounds. But maybe that's a better vice than being continually in search of prolonged or returned youth. After all, I will get older. I need no fountain or elixir, only patience and time.