|This year my birthday celebrations were intimate, but the hat parade was fabulous|
Each year it arrives. Inevitably, uncompromisingly, wordlessly. The date of our birth is like the steamroller bearing down on the henchman in Austin Powers – constantly rolling towards us, while we remain paralysed and incapable of getting out of its path. See what I did there? In the name of an analogy I used something that peaked in the 90’s, got tiresome through repetition, and now ultimately just feels dated. Kind of like my birthday.
The clearest thing I know for sure about aging is it sure seems to Grinch me out. I wrote a stream of consciousness list, and completely without planning it, it became the highly positive, totally life-affirming, upbeat catalogue of:
Things I don’t like about getting older
The list featured all the usual complaints about physical changes. ‘My back hurts’ was literally the first thing I typed. It still hurts by the way.
No longer being viewed as young in the workplace
Why does this bother me? Probably because it was somehow connected to my secret hope I was a child prodigy at something. If you’re still getting the coffees at 29… I think that ship might have sailed.
The fact that I still don’t feel like a grown up
Grown-ups understand what the hell their superannuation fund does. And probably have one of them, rather than six. Grown-ups don’t wear jeans to work, they wear slacks, or skirts, or astronaut suits. Grown-ups don’t live in share houses, or have to borrow gardening sheers from their parents, or have large mounted movie posters adorning their lounge room walls. They have personal space paired with a hideous amount of debt, a gardener that comes on Thursdays and a burgeoning modern art collection.
Young people, because they’re annoying and stupid
I mean. Obvious.
The property market, because it’s annoying and stupid
Realising my parents are also getting older
The insertion of hashtags into verbal conversation
And YOLO. And other acronyms I don’t understand because I’m old and too scared to admit I don’t understand the annoying and stupid young people.
Getting out of bed has not become easier
I was told sleeping in was a youthful fad I would overcome. I have not.
Vacuuming, shaving and choosing what I eat for dinner – 3 things that always seemed like thrilling privileges during my childhood, marvellous gifts I would attain with age, are awful things I somehow tricked myself into looking forward to.
Coming to terms with the fact that I probably can’t take my nephews in a fight anymore
Why is this important to me? Because I’m not a real grown up perchance?
Coming to terms with the fact that I will never appear on Survivor, am yet to solve a crime in the manner of Miss Marple, and haven’t stumbled across my own undiscovered musical talent (a skill I haven’t worked at because I assumed it would just find me)
What have I done with my life?
That plan I always have about working overseas feels just as vague and base-less now as it did when I started talking about it 10 years ago
My inability to ride a bike uphill
It requires three things I currently lack – fitness, balance and, in a surprise twist, a bike.
The fact that I was pretty sure I was going to be a published author by my early 20’s
Mostly because of Zadie Smith. I blame Zadie Smith.
I have failed to develop the ability to walk in heels.
Like my hidden musical talent, I thought it would just appear one day, unbidden, without practice, and simply occur.
The biggest recurring theme appears to be Things I Haven’t Done. I think the worst part about getting old is the memory of what you thought you’d be by now. It’s not traumatizing or anything, and I know I was a bit of a douche in my youth, but I can’t help but suspect Young Me would be totally disappointed in Old Me. Young Me thought Old Me would have Figured Stuff Out, while seamlessly becoming a Sophisticated and Worldly Human Being who was widely recognised as a Flawless Genius Who Only Ever Had Amazing Ideas.
I struggle with aging, not out of vanity, but because I know it’s meant to be significant, but I’m not sure I’ve isolated why. It’s something I have no control over, will happen whether I like it or not, and requires no special skills, so how can that by itself be considered an achievement?
There are some good things about getting older. It’s a shorter list though:
I like the people I like more
I love the people I love more
I can stay up as late as I want
I’m sure there’s more to that list. Perhaps I’ll add my failure to add to the second list on my first list this time next year. Or maybe the whole thing will just make more sense when I’m older…