By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3
Last week I had lunch with a good friend I’ve known since I was a freshman in college. I was buying her a very belated birthday lunch after we both spent the past two months trying to find a day when our busy schedules would match up. Here’s a little snippet of our conversation over Olive Garden’s salad and breadsticks:
Her: “Can you believe my high school graduating class is planning our 20th class reunion? I specifically remember when my mom went to her 20th class reunion. Gwen, we are old!”
Me: “I know! And I can’t believe it has taken us two months to get together for your birthday. Time just goes by too fast.”
Her: “Ugh. Thirty-eight years old. It sounds so old, doesn’t it?”
Me: “Yes, I know. It sounds ancient. I can’t believe we’re 38. It seems like we were 19-years-old about five minutes ago.”
Her: “Wait a second. You’re not 38, are you?”
Me: “Well, not technically but my birthday is in two weeks so I will be soon enough.”
Her: “And you’re going to be turning 38?”
Me: “Sure, just like you.”
Her: “But you’re one year younger than me, remember? So that means you’re 36 right now and about to turn 37.”
Me: “Are you sure?” (Mentally subtracting my year of birth from 2010… and then remembering that I was a freshman while she was a sophomore.) “I guess you’re right. I’ll be 37. Wow!”
Her: “I can’t BELIEVE you didn’t know how old you are.”
Me: “Yeah, and forget that stuff I said about 38 sounding ancient. Doesn’t sound too bad at all.”
Her: (Pause for heavy sarcasm.) “Yeah, right.”
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A sure sign of aging is forgetting how old you are. When you have to do the math to figure out what number you’re on, you’ve probably had enough birthdays that they’ve all begun to run together a little. At least, that’s what I’m telling myself. It’s either that or those three pregnancies stole more of my brain cells than I had to spare.
Despite bemoaning my age with a friend (that’s just what we girlfriends do), I wouldn’t wish away a single year. The up-side of aging is how it helps you care less about what you “should” be and make peace with what and who you are. These days I’m less interested in jockeying for position among my peers and more focused on the quality of the ride.
And you have to admit: Time allows you to watch some amazing things happen. Yesterday, while I was working on my computer, Jack sat down next to me and asked if I’d help him type the word “Disney” into the Google search engine. I called out the letters while Jack slowly typed them in. When the Disney website games opened on the computer screen, Jack said “Mom, what websites did you like to play on when you were a kid?”
“Well, we didn’t have any websites when I was a kid,” I said. Jack turned away from the computer to look at me with disbelieving eyes. “No websites?” he said.
“And no computers, either,” I confirmed. And I could tell he wasn’t able to wrap his kindergarten brain around that lack of technology.
Jack has never heard of a cassette tape or a “Walkman” or an “Atari.” But I have seen those things come and go and be replaced by things we never imagined when I was Jack’s age. I can only guess at what technological miracles Jack will see by the time he’s 37 or 38.
Of course, by the time he’s that age, he won’t be able to remember how old he is anyway.