Em asked for three things this Christmas: “Spiderman stuff”, binoculars and a skateboard. I’m not sure what he has planned, exactly. I’m assuming it doesn’t entail dressing up like Spiderman, hitting the streets and peeping into windows. Not that I know anything about that. I prefer do my peeping from the comforts of our couch. But whatever his plans may be, he wants these three things. So these three things he shall have.
As of yesterday, I’d gotten all but one: the skateboard. You see, I’d been putting off the skateboard because of where I’d have to go to get the skateboard. Normally, I’d have just gone, thought nothing of it. But I’ve been going through something lately that has me acting strangely.
I wouldn’t call it a midlife crisis; I’m not thinking of joining a roller derby team. It’s that I’m aging faster these days, faster than I’ve ever aged before. I have a lot more wrinkles, wrinkles that weren’t there last year. I’m noticing grey hair, new aches and pains, my inability to do things I used to do. It’s becoming a minor obsession of mine, actually. I always have something to obsess over. Whether it be infertility, weight, pregnancy, or running, I have something. And, if all goes well and nothing truly tragic happens (please god, no) 2012 is going to be The Year Of Obsessing Over My Age.
I worry about everything now, from wrinkles to hair loss, from aches and pains to tumors and cancer. I was never a hypochondriac before. I never worried about my health even when I probably should have worried about my health. Now, suddenly, everything is bothering me. The fact that I used to smoke? Yeah, I’m dying. And that weird skin thing? That could be some “bad” cancer. Is this what it’s like getting older? Hypochondria, nasal strips and tiger balm?
Maybe this is due to my having two kids and being responsible for the both of them. And buying the 4-year-old a skateboard yesterday sure as shit ain’t helping. What if he gets hurt? He will get hurt! Of course he’ll get hurt! He’s an active little boy! They’ll both get hurt. They may even break a couple of bones. OH MY GOD! WHAT IS THAT DARK SPOT ON MY NECK?
Anyway, my new obsession with aging is manifesting itself in strange ways. At first I was becoming a little too concerned about fitting in—or not fitting in. I realized this only recently while at my externship. Most of my coworkers were right around 24-years-old. I’m not 24 anymore. I don’t want to be 24 ever again. I hadn’t even really thought about 24-year-old me until I started hanging out with 24-year-olds. And I think I needed that, to go back in time. In truth: at age 24, I sure as shit didn’t believe I was a kid. But I was. I know that now. Had you told me that then, I’d have wanted to punch you in the throat and then I’d have fallen from my barstool.
I was a kid. And I have no desire to be a kid again. But I enjoyed talking to my coworkers, and since I’m still not totally over-the-hill, I went back and forth between “friend” and “mother”. It’s not that I acted like their mother, at least I hope not. It’s that I started to think of my coworkers as my future sons. They became my educators, in a sense, glimpses into my future. What might my sons be doing one day? How hungover will they be on a Saturday morning at work? Will they still be drunk? Will one of them jump the turnstile in the subway and get arrested? Will they be doing drugs named “Molly”?
(I had a first skateboard once. My mom took me to get it when I was 13-years-old. I was just getting started, dipping my feet into my teenage years. There wasn’t a tomorrow. There definitely wasn’t any grey hair.)
Lately, I’ve been trying to remind myself of how cool I used to be, which is dorky on so many levels, I can’t even begin to describe them all. I might as well be the kid hanging from the tree by her underpants. Or the shitfaced aunt at a wedding who does the Electric Slide better than ALL the bridesmaids put together.
(This weekend, while at an event, a couple told me about a party they catered and how the people were trying to act like they were 24 again. But they weren’t 24! They were old! Like, 40!)
Perhaps it’s that I don’t want to let go of 24-year-old me. And there’s a part of me that wants people to know who I used to be and how cool I was, (or thought i was). I used to be able to drink all night, show up for work the next day without totally and completely wanting to kill myself because even that would be better than an adult hangover. And while I never did any drugs named “Molly”, I think made out with one under a table at Galapagos (before it moved to Dumbo).
But now? Now hangovers last two days. So I can’t do much in the way of drinking. And if I’m up past 10 PM, I get twitchy. I have wrinkles and grey hair. I’m getting older. That is a fact. And no one cares if I think I was once cool. None of that matters anymore.
So I strapped the baby to my chest and walked into our local skate shop to buy a board for my 4-year-old. The guy behind the counter could not have been any nicer. He helped me decide what to get and helped me pick out a helmet. And just as I was finishing up he said, “The first board is a big deal. You’re doing a really cool thing. My mom just sent me a picture of me on my first board. I was six. Make sure you take a picture of your kid on this board.”
What’s wrong with getting older anyway?