The tragedy of old age is not that one is old, but that one is young.
Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray
A friend recently lamented on her facebook page that she will soon turn an age that most of her peers consider old: 35. While she realizes that she is not old, she still feels a stigma associated with the age. I wonder if I felt 35 was old when I was in my late 20’s and early 30’s.
I honestly don’t remember turning 35. I can look back and remember things that happened that year: I sold my first house and bought another; my son started school; I had yet to learn that not everything in the work world needed to be a battle — even if I were right — and that took a toll on my job; my father died.
I remember what I did on several birthdays — got married on my 39th, went to Paris on my 40th, spent my 43th in London with my son, had dinner at Le Bernardin on my 50th. But I don’t know that I ever was anxious about a certain birthday because of the number of years being marked. I remember a co-worker giving me a button on my 40th that read “I’m 40. So what”. Everyone laughingly agreed that it was appropriate for me.
There are days when I feel that I am so unhip that I must be middle-aged. My friends’ children are marrying. I mentally note which colleagues are young enough to be my children. I dye my hair and buy cool eyeglasses, but dress appropriate to my age. After all, as a friend of mine asserts, there should be clothing sized ‘M’ because nothing is shaped like it used to be, regardless of how thin one might be.
Other times, I wonder if I will ever feel grownup. Isn’t ‘old’ 10 years older than your current age? I feel younger than I thought my husband was when I married him even though chronologically I am that age now. And I no longer think of him as old, although he regularly claims that he is. Dealing with octogenarian parents with myriad health problems, I certainly feel the responsibilities of being an adult, but I’m not sure that I feel old. Nor can I draw a line at when I stopped feeling young. Maybe that is the goal, to only know what stage in your life you were when you look back at the arc that started so many years before.
What about you? What age seems old for you?