The matter of age

I still remember being little and wondering how old I had to be, to be older than my siblings, or at least match them in age. Seems like a silly thought but when you are the youngest of four and constantly feel too small, not so much in stature but more in status, the thought crosses your mind.  Probably sounds strange? Well, when I was growing up, I was the gofer, the sacrificial lamb ( for jokes), and too young to be taken seriously.  I actually decided to run away from home one time.

imageI packed up a couple of items of clothing, some money I had and a snack I think, all wrapped in a small bundle wrapped in cloth, hid it under the settee near the dining room door, which had a door to the outside, and resolved to escape forever from the life that was making me miserable.  At night, I waited till there were no sounds, just a hum of the fan. I remember laying awake resolutely, waiting to execute my plan. When I was sure that no one was awake in the house, I snuck quietly into the dining room in the dark, pulled out my secret bundle of clothes from under the settee and just sat with it on my lap, in the dark, contemplating what I was about to do. I hadn’t thought out very clearly what I would do after I left the house or where I would go after the coast was clear. So I sat there a while longer in wide-eyed wonder about how I would actually make it into the real world, where I would live, how I would make money to find food and about the unknown dangers that could be out there in the dark. I think I must have been 9 or 10 yrs. old but even at that age, I was practical enough. As my fear grew, my resolve weakened. I silently dropped the bundle next to my side, got up off the sette and walked back to my room, unpacked what represented my life, stuffed it into the closet and went to bed. I can’t remember if I cried but I do remember feeling defeated.

From then on while I may not have felt that much different than I did before my failed escape attempt, I did become less concerned with the jabs at me. I accepted my fate and became far more relaxed than I was before. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade….while I didn’t know this saying then, I pretty much practised it. I allowed life to ‘take’ me where it chose.  I didn’t give up as much as I gave in, giving life permission to take me where it would. Not consciously of course, I think these things just happen and when you look back you realize what was happening, what your rationale might have been, the fog starts to clear…

I’m not much of a thinker. You’d never see me sitting somewhere all glazey-eyed, detached from the world, gazing into the distance, thinking about things, analyzing them forwards and backwards. I can do that for maybe 30 seconds, 60-tops; then other thoughts crowd around me, unrelated to the matter I was going to dwell on and take me on a ride. It’s not that I don’t want to, in fact sometimes I’ve tried really hard to focus on a thought but I’m just not capable.

I practise something I am going to call spontaneous thinking. I think as I write or speak, 90% of the time; in the moment and that’s it. Once it’s passed through my fingers, I’m not going back. What for? I thought about it as much as my limited capacity allowed me and now I’m movin on. What’s the point of wasting energy and time.  Sorry, did I mention I tend to be tangential?

So, life went on, I floated through it as soundlessly as is possible, met my now husband and got married in short order. I mean S-H-O-R-T order. I am quite spontaneous and as I already told you I don’t like to dwell much on my thoughts. The way my mind works, if something draws me to it and my mind decides I’m going to go for it, I’m not going to um and ahh about it, I’m just going to do it.  After all life’s short! I met my husband on September 8, 1992. I discovered I could talk to him like I could talk to nobody else. As for him, in the last 23 years that’s the only decision he’s made in a matter of minutes; everything else he analyzes no end before embarking upon (thank goodness one of us has that capability)! So, the Stars aligned to make sure we did not part, and we got married on September 27, 1992. That’s right, we knew each other just 19days before we decided to be cell mates 🙂 his family and my family have old ties but I had never met him before this time. like I said, the stars were aligned….

My husband is 8 years older than me. He IS the better half and every day I try to be more like him. I want to embody his maturity, his fairness, his purity, his single-minded courage to stand up for what’s right, even if it’s awkward or difficult or different. Since I spent all my young life trying to be accepted just like everyone else who was older than me, more quick witted than me, and smarter than me, among my siblings, I do find it difficult to do anything that might cause me to not be accepted. I think I need anothe blog post to go on about it….lets just say, in my mind I felt like I needed to be more his age to be more like him. I can’t explain why, except that I was young when we got married ( about 19) and I felt a little like a kid around his friends who were more his age than mine. At that time, in our first years together, I felt like a kid in whatever I did and wherever I accompanied him. Naturally, I wanted to match him in age, as much to be accepted as his wife, as to be seen as an equal. I had moments of doubt, on his behalf, that he had made a mistake marrying me, someone so much younger and less mature than him. I am still trying to come up to par with him. I keep thinking I’ll catch up to him in years, well we all know that’s not really possible. The distance that separates us in years is like the two sides of a road, and how can they converge…nevertheless I keep hoping I’ll be as old as him.

I’m 42 now, have some silver hair of my own, I feel closer to his age, his friends don’t seem ‘older’ anymore. In fact, I even feel like I can sit among my siblings and be their equal. Now and again  a passing comment still returns me to the age of 9 (or at least the feelings of age 9), but it’s a fleeting moment. For the most part I feel like I’ve grown up. In past years I’ve even shared some things I’ve learnt, with my siblings and recognized in their looks or words, a glimmer of pride in their younger sister, or maybe acceptance? In those moments I felt like I had crossed the barrier of age, like the two sides of the road have converged over a shared understanding a bit of learnt knowledge. It’s almost enough to make me feel like I’ve won a trophy, like getting to the top of the hill huffing and puffing and being rewarded with a breathtaking view of the valley.

So unlike my sister, who would always say to my mom, “I’m not turning 19, no way. I’m going to stay 18′, I say, I love my silver, when can I be 50 like my husband?!

I know most women are mysterious about their age but for me, I look forward to the next milestone I can surpass.

That’s not to say that the ravages of age have not bothered me. I do wish my bones acted like they did when I was 18 but that’s not realistic, is it? I wish I had more years ‘available’ to make sure I am there when my girls need me to babysit their kids or help them choose curtains for their dream homes but we get what we get and it’s up to us to try to live it out with amazing grace and sincerity.

imageI’m working on figuring it out a bit at a time.  I feel small, faced with the magnanimity of life but oh how wonderful to be given the chance. The chance to live here, to see it all, experience it all. What does age matter, it is after all, just a number representing how long we’ve been here, how long we’ve been trying (to perfect the art of living) not how much we’ve lived. Some live a lifetime in a moment and others, just a moment in a lifetime. If you focus on age too much the years will whiz by and you’ll find yourself wondering where they went. So let’s give it up, this obsession with age, me included, and make every moment count.♥️


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