(Day 10: Write about something for which you feel strongly.)
By definition, Millennials are those born between 1981 and 1996. So by definition, I am a millennial. But don’t you DARE lump me into that category. I’ve always felt pretty strongly that I’m more of a gen-x’er at heart. And that feels more and more true the older I get. And I’ve come to terms with the sad reality that that’s what’s happening. I’m getting older. In fact, it has already begun to happen. I am old.
I’d like to pause here and acknowledge that when 50-year-old me (or even-older-than-that-me) looks back to these musings of 37-year-old me, I’ll laugh and laugh. I’ll shake my head derisively and think, “If only you knew….” in the same way that I reminisce about how fat high-school-me thought I was or about how self-assured about parenting 30-year-old-me thought I was. I get it. My understanding of this phenomenon called aging will change over time. It’ll evolve with me. But today, right now, this is very real. I’m. Freakin’. Old.
It happened around day 8 of this lockdown. I was leaning into the bathroom mirror, maybe to daub at some tears, maybe to wipe away some errant Nutella…. You know, typical quarantine stuff. And there it was. A glittery strand of silver sprouting from my temple. My first silver hair. Silver. Not gray. Because I sparkle, obviously. It was the final nail in the coffin of my youth. No denying it.
How can I be so sure? Well, as I said, the lone silver strand was the final undeniable straw. Prior to that, though, there were a string of indicators that when considered individually, seemed unusual at best. A fluke. Nothing worth mentioning. Some were pretty nuanced. Others were harder to ignore. But taken in total, they all point to one conclusion; OLD.
This was among the first signs that I noticed. It probably began with some pock-faced teen-aged cashier at the grocery store and surely elicited an eye roll from me when I recounted the story to my husband. “Can you believe it? She called me ‘ma’am!'” But over time, it became more common to hear. So much so that now being called “miss” feels uncomfortable, almost patronizing. As if I’m some white-haired grandmother and they’re just trying to make me feel good about myself.
You could argue that I’ve always had an appreciation for men who are perhaps slightly too old for me. So looking back, I can see how this change actually began long before the first “ma’am” was uttered in my direction. But it didn’t full-on hit me until circa 2010 when I discovered The Gilmore Girls on Netflix. It was that series that I credit with my epiphany that I’d entered a “sweet spot.” You know the spot. It’s when you think, “Rory’s boyfriend Dean is dreamy” but also “Damn, Luke is hot!” and suddenly realize that men almost young enough to be your son AND men almost old enough to be your dad are equally attractive. Tell me I’m not alone.
I distinctly remember a conversation with my husband that took place about nine years. We were getting ready for my nephew’s sixteenth birthday party when, in passing, I referred to us as his “young, hip aunt and uncle.” My husband chuckled and told me that by merely using the words “young and hip” I’ve proven that I’m anything but. I argued the point without a whole lot of conviction at the time because I didn’t yet know how much was at stake. He was right. I just didn’t know it then. Since that night, my nephews have opened me a whole world of new slang that, if I’m honest, I have no idea what any of it means. Squad. Life. Say less. No cap. On fleek. Are they even speaking English sometimes?
In my youth, splurge buys included things like weekend excursions or a new car. When the bills were paid and money was left over, I’d pony up for concert tickets or hit the casino. Hubby and I would throw a party or satisfy some whim. But over time, extra money began being filtered into adult (read: boring) things. A new dishwasher. Replacing the roof. Preschool tuition. Our parties began to involve less alcohol and more pinatas and goody bags full of useless junk that other old people like us find ways to slowly discard without their kids noticing. The real eye opener for me was when my husband and I picked out our new washer and dryer last Christmas…and were actually excited for what we knew Santa would be delivering.
A couple of years ago, I noticed a birthmark on my left hand. It’s one tiny circle of skin that’s just a tad darker than the rest of my hand. “Hmm. That’s strange. I don’t remember that being there before,” I thought. Then I considered the fact that maybe it was dirt. But scrubbing didn’t get rid of it. So maybe it’s a stain of some sort. But weeks later it was still there. That’s when I came to terms that it’s an age spot. My first. And to date, still my only.
Too young for you
I enjoy a good meme as much as anyone. And I’ll openly admit that I watched Jersey Shore when it hit MTV. So when the “she’s too young for you bro” memes began, I was fully on board. They were hilarious. Pauly D’s exasperated face and block letters insisting that “she’s too young for you bro” if she doesn’t know what X is. And X was lots of things. The original Nintendo console. A screen shot from Limewire. A picture of “Tom” from MySpace. The lyrics to the opening of Fresh Prince. But recently, X has started to become things that I’ve never seen before. (I’m lookin’ at YOU, Roblox and Fortnite.) This begs the question, Am I too young, bro? Turns out, no. But when you’re too old to get the “too young for you bro” references…then what? What kind of world is this?!
I recently wrote a blog post about some of my favorite songs. And while working on that post, it drove home a point that until then I’d only let rattle around in the back of my mind. As I age, my musical taste continues to change. Sometimes drastically. I went from a CD wallet full of discs marked as explicit to Spotify playlists leaning heavily toward country, folk, and instrumental. Foxy Brown has been replaced with Kacey Musgraves, DMX with Ray Lamontagne.
All kidding aside, having lost my mother when she was just 48 years old, I’ve always placed high regard to the following quote, source unknown: “Do not regret growing older. It’s a privilege denied to many.” So I’m going to take my age spot and my one silver hair and all the changes I’ve noticed in my personality and tastes and I’m going to embrace it all. Aging is a beautiful thing and I can’t wait to see the person I become.