Monday, September 20, 2010
Sorry, I Couldn't Hear You Over All The Crinkling
So I busted out an 80s dance move and said, "You know.. I raaaaan. I ran so far awaaaaaay," and she looked at me like I'd lost my ever-loving mind.
It hit me that she didn't have the first clue what I was talking about.
"The band?" I clarified. "Flock of Seagulls? They were huge in the early 80s?"
"OH!" she said, and I sighed in relief until she went on to say, "Sorry, I was born in 1978."
She's thirty two? NINE years younger than me?
I have this habit of thinking everyone is just like me. I meet you, we become friends, and I just presume you're my age because we get along so well. Sure, maybe I notice you must have a better anti-aging cream than me, because you don't have one frigging laugh line. But it never occurs to me that you might just be younger than me.
Suddenly everyone is impossibly young. At the second grade open house I was introduced to a lovely young woman - I'm thinking she's a nanny, perhaps? - who went on to explain that she's the TEACHER. I went to have an annual physical and the doctor's dewy, unlined face was more than a little disconcerting to me. Call me old-fashioned, but I want my doctor to be downright craggy, weighted down with life experience and tomes of medical knowledge.
I was chatting amiably with my dentist a few months ago, rambling on about my children, and I finished by saying, "But what are you going to do. Kids, you know?"
"Actually, I don't have kids yet," he said, aiming for my mouth with a terrifying pointy instrument. "I'm engaged and getting married next year. Open wide!"
Don't get me wrong. I'm not worried about aging, or getting older. I loved turning 40. It felt liberating to be at a life stage where I didn't have to wring my existential hands and wonder what the heck I was going to do when I grew up. I am the grown-up. Right?
The kids don't help, though. The other night we were having dinner, and Finn was talking about how he wanted to be a Dad one day.
"But then you'll be the grandmother, Momma," he said.
"I can't wait to be a grandmother," I smiled.
Sure, kid. I've got hundreds of dollars worth of facial creams upstairs that are trying to do just that.
"Everyone gets wrinkles," I said. "It's natural."
"It's okay to get a little crinkly," he replied. "Like the ones you have around your eyes? Oh, and your mouth? And those right there on your forehead? They're okay. But, if your neck gets really crinkly that would be too weird."
Last weekend we went for a walk on some forest trails on a beautiful autumn afternoon. I felt alive, vibrant, kicking my feet through the leaves and breathing the cool air. Greta and Finn were walking ahead of me, shoulder-to-shoulder. I commented on how cute they looked together.
"Oh, we're tour guides," Greta said casting a glance my way over her shoulder. "And you're our customer."
"What a lovely tour!" I exclaimed, falling into my role. "What gorgeous leaves!"
"AND THIS HERE IS THE TRAIL THAT LEADS TO THE WATER," Greta boomed.
"Oh," she said. "It's the Senior Citizen tour. I wanted to be sure you could hear me okay."