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Posts Tagged ‘aging’

Gen-X or Ex-Lax?

How is it you wake up one day and you’re 33 years old?

Actually… It’s not like that. It’s more like, you’ve been waking up like this every day of your life, only some days you think about your age and other days (most days) you’re too busy to give a flying fuck. You don’t wake up one day, look in the mirror, and think, “who the hell is this saggy bag of rust standing before me?”

It doesn’t happen that way. Age creeps up on you.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to imply that 33 is an advanced age, but it’s certainly not 22, or even 27.

About a month before I turned four, my mom celebrated her 29th anniversary of being alive. I remember sitting on the carpet next to my mom as she lay on the floor at the foot of the stairs. She was obviously distraught about something.

“What’s wrong?” I asked in a concerned munchkin voice.

“I’m turning 29 years old today,” my mother replied with a sigh. “Next year, I’ll be 30. I’ll be old.”

“Mommy, you’re not old.”

My mother stared at the ceiling, trying to maintain her composure as she pulled me into a tight hug.

To this day, I’m not certain why my mom was so upset about nearing 30. I can only speculate that it had something to do with her own vanity and my father’s wandering eye. It’s funny how such a small, forgettable encounter can shape you. Seeing my mother so terrified of something that was 100% inevitable, molded some of my feelings about age.

Age should be a badge of honor in the animal kingdom. You’ve survived all the millions of possible deaths that could have possibly been inflicted upon you. You didn’t get brain cancer. You weren’t hit by a train. You haven’t been eaten alive by a polar bear.

So many deadly possibilities… and you’ve escaped them all.

The moment you were born, chances are there was someone looking out for you; making sure you had everything you needed to thrive. Then you struck out on your own for the first time when you were 18 or 22, or whatever age you were. And you went through a rough spot. Maybe you went through 14 months of surviving on ramen and cigarettes. All this, and you managed not to kill yourself or anyone else while driving drunk.

Then you hit your mid- to late-twenties and you find yourself a mate and a mortgage. You’re gaining weight and your spouse and your boss are driving you nuts. You hit your early thirties and you wonder what you’re suffering through all this for. Is this nuclear family and this fancy house really worth it? Somehow, you manage to make it through this “mid-life crisis” with your sanity mostly intact  and without putting a bullet in your head.

Then you hit your forties and… Well, to be honest, I don’t know what the fuck happens when you hit your forties, but I do know that all along the way you’re constantly being brainwashed into thinking old age is something to fear.

Old age is not frightening, considering the alternative is death. So wear your badge of honor (or bag of wrinkles) proudly. Next time someone asks for your age, tell them the truth, unflinchingly. Embrace your saggy skin (if you can actually wrap your arms around your fat lump of a body) and slick your scraggly gray hairs into a faux-hawk. You’ve earned it. You didn’t die–again.

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