Sunday, March 09, 2014

Time and distance

When did I get so old? I woke up one morning, looked in the mirror, and saw my grandmother staring back.

I don't feel much different than I did when I was a kid, mind you.

Well, except for the realization that I'd prefer to ask my kids to retrieve the things I drop rather than bend down. Of course, I tell myself that's not age, that's why people have kids.

But the advancing of time is evident nonetheless.

Maybe I started to feel my age when I stopped recognizing youthful celebrities.

Or when Courtney Cox moved from Monica Geller's Greenwich Village apartment to Cougar Town.

It might have been when a real life person – someone my age -- prematurely became a grandparent.
Perhaps it was the AARP membership letter that came in the mail with my name on it.

It could have been any number of things, I don't know.

The years keep coming.

Fine lines etching deeper on my face. Sharp lines softening elsewhere. Joints responding like rust when I wake them up most mornings earlier than any of us intended. It probably doesn't help that I think of my knees and ankles as separate beings, whom I'd rather would sleep by themselves so as not to wake me in the middle of the night with their creaking. But it's a marvel we get to sleep at all.

Is it time to switch to decaf? The dreaded decaf.

I don't dare ask my Facebook friends.

I get enough snake-oil sales pitches masquerading as double-blind studies, thankyouverymuch. Besides, who wants to be unfriended?

Instead, I've decided to embrace my impending decrepitude. I try out senility the way my pre-teen tries out moodiness.

“We just got the Netflix,” I'll say just to head off any helpful suggestions. “It comes on the line.”

For good measure, I pronounce “WiFi” like “Wiffle ball.

It's a put-on, of course. I know how to say WHY-FYE.

But I've started to refuse to learn new technologies. I'm not joining whatever comes after Facebook or Instagram. I don't even want to know how to use WHAT'SAPP.

Not until there's no way around it, anyway.

“What's a Flip camera?” My daughter asks as she holds out the device she fished from the bottom of our junk drawer.
“It's a pocket video camera we bought one year, and then it was made obsolete by the smartphone the following year,” I reply. “That's four weeks of time spent mystified and $200 I'll never get back.”

At least the awkward years between vinyl and compact disc stretched out over decades.

I suppose such stubbornness makes a person seem older, too.

An inflexible mind complementing inflexible joints.

That get off my lawn moment when you realize the words “Kids today don't know how to make change,” came out of your mouth at a party. And this time you we're making conversation not quoting the old guy who made you cry your first day on the job.

But “Old” is relative.

Compared to the universe, or the pyramids, or Methuselah, I will never be old.

Still, my kids think I was born before the dawn of the automobile and that I had to do my school work by candlelight.

And their kids will ask them what it was like to live in a world that didn't have television and flush toilets

“How old do you feel?” I asked my dad recently.

He didn't answer directly.

He just shook his head. “I'm going to be 75 this year,” he marveled. “How is that possible?”
“But do you feel old?” I persisted.

“I asked my mother that same question once,” he told me, noting the answer he received confused him. “She must have been 65 or so. She said she felt like she was 20. … Can you imagine?”

But I don't need to use my imagination. I just need to look in the mirror.

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