This week will bring along my 36th birthday. Holy crap, that sounds really bad. THIRTY SIX?! How in the hell did that happen? I mean, I don’t feel significantly different from 32, or 28, or 25. When you’re a kid, you think about when you’ll be an “adult”. Honestly, I’m still wondering… It’s gotta happen one of these days, right?
It occurred to me, that at 35 you are half of 70. Granted life expectancy now is mid to late 70’s, but if you kick at 70, nobody looks a that as a great tragedy. Whoa. That is a sobering thought.
With such a birthday coming, I’ve been thinking about aging. Stages of life, if you will. Of course, we have the epic speech by Billy Crystal in City Slickers. But I think I can expand on it a little bit. (In the spirit of full disclosure, I don’t personally know the older ranges… I’m educated guessing)
You’re born. You obviously don’t remember this, and probably for good reason. Ye olde play-doh fun factory of life would probably not be something you want to look fondly back on. You are the center of attention, even if you don’t know it.
You start to figure things out. The walking. The talking. “NO”. You know… The essentials. You may have some friends you recognize from day care. The most important toy is always the one the other kid has.
The last years before you enter the forced hierarchical structure that is school. This is a golden time. Your parents are the smartest people on the planet. I remember very well hanging out with Mom all day. She worked from home sewing, so I would crawl around in the closet full of fabric and listen to daytime TV. Occasionally make a run to the bank or grocery store. All I knew was that my older sister wasn’t around and didn’t get to do any of this fun stuff.
Now you’re in school. You have a ready made gauge for ranking everyone. When you’re in first grade, all you know is everything is new and you’re the youngest in the school (except for those wimpy kindergartners but they don’t even go to school all day). Once you jump to 2nd grade, you realize what all the fuss is about. You instantly know, you are not the youngest, and thus, the most lame. Everyone older than you is cooler, everyone younger is not. That is just the way it is. School is the dominating force in your life. You spend the most time there. The year feels SO long. It might as well be 5 years between Christmases.