I realize I’m not actually an old person yet. I also realize the definition of an old person is completely relative. To my son, I’m an old person. To the cute little girls who gave me a tour of the genius school I want to send my son to, I’m an old person. But to my mom, my dad, my grandmother, many of my friends, I’m still a young person.
I’ve become fascinated lately with how much my perception of age has changed as I’ve aged. When I was a kid I thought my grandparents were really old. At one point in my life I tried to determine whether my dad’s mom or my mom’s parents were the oldest people alive. What can I say. I was very young and they were the oldest people I knew. Now that I have a son, I think his grandparents seem much younger than my grandparents ever were. They’re not. They’re older than my mom’s parents were when I was Steele’s age. In fact, if I’ve done my math correctly, when I was a preschooler my maternal grandmother was not much older than Steele’s father is now. Still, she looked (and still does) like a grandmother to me. My mom, on the other hand, still looks like my mom. Just a bit blonder than when I was a kid.
What brought this whole idea to mind was an event that happened earlier this week. I stopped in a Starbucks just before lunch for a cup of coffee (I’d recently won a $5 gift card). In the Starbucks I spotted my high school German teacher. She looked great. In fact, she seemed to have aged backwards. I imagine this is partly due to aging well. But mostly its because the last time I saw her, I was a teenager. Although she was not that old at the time, to my teenage eyes, she seemed really old. But it’s now been almost 20 years since I left high school. Now that I’m an old person, she seems much younger than I remember her being.
Today is my birthday. I’m 36 years old. Old enough that it takes me several seconds to figure out just how old I actually am. I don’t generally think of myself as old. But I do realize that I’m about as old as people that my younger self classified as really old.