The Broad Spectrum: Of an age

Getting older is universal. So is freaking out about it.

click to enlarge The Broad Spectrum: Of an age

People love to bitch about millennials' aversion to adulting, but I’m pretty sure it’s not all that new of a phenomenon. I’m a Gen X-er, and I speak from experience.

During my 20s and early 30s I was happily delaying adulthood — until I had my first son when I was 34. That responsibility demanded that I stop whooping it up in bars and staying up until all hours even on the weeknights, which my restaurant jobs had formerly allowed me to (and, in some cases, encouraged). 

Before I had kids, I was technically an adult, in that I was independent; I lived on my own and paid my own bills. But I never felt like the kind of adult that would fit into a corporate-career setting, or have a financial portfolio or — egads! — be someone’s parent. Oh, hell no. 

There is no magic switch that flips one day and makes us feel like adults in the same way that we assume our parents or grandparents do — and it turns out they actually may have been faking it all along. And as for what constitutes being an official grown-up, that’s up for debate as well. 

Still, my Peter Pan years were cool. No regrets; I had a great time. But now that I’m in my early 40s, I can't pretend that all that prolonged avoidance of real responsibility somehow prevented the passage of time from streaking my hair with gray. 

I look at my swimsuits and they're middle-aged lady style — one-pieces with industrial-strength boob support. Young people at my job are smart and capable, even though they were slobbering on rattles when I was raging to Nirvana and Nine Inch Nails. In a certain light, I can see my old-lady neck slowly encroaching, telling me my body is aging, but I don’t want to hear it. 

I’ve always admired women who grow old gracefully. They let nature take its course but still take care of themselves and somehow emanate some kind of wise, loving glow. The ones who can do that are beautiful. That’s what I want. But now that I’m working towards those years, even though they’re 25 or 30 years off, I find I’m more vain than I realized. I don’t want to be perceived as not being young.

I didn't know that would happen. I didn’t think I cared about that stuff. 

The fact is, getting older is just weird. But it’s part of the journey. Nothing to do but suck it up. Exercise or whatever. Try not to die, and be grateful if you have your health. 

I do take solace in one thing: My generation, my people, we’re all aging together. I love you guys. We have a lot in common, from the politics to the pop culture of our times, so we’ll have a good ol’ time reminiscing about "our day" when it’s our turn to be the old people who go to bars in the mornings. 

That’ll be rad.