My route home from the gym (if I go to the gym after work) takes me by one of Denver’s big concert venues. Usually I gym at lunch, but lately I’ve been skipping lunch (eating but not taking “a lunch”), leaving at 4 and gymming then, so my walk home yesterday afternoon took me by the concert venue as a whole bunch of people were lining up.
Usually when I pass by a crowd outside this venue, they’re a good 5-10 years younger than I am (on average). I feel kind of old when I walk by most times, kind of like the other day when I was in the grocery store and saw the “You must be born in 1988 or earlier to purchase tobacco” and I said, out loud, “Holy crap, 1988! I am so old!” They’re all in tight jeans and floppy emo hair or in saggy jeans and hoochie shirts, depending on who is playing. Yesterday was the rare exception, as I was a good 20-30 years younger than most people lining up outside the concert venue. I was starting to feel a bit like I was in the twilight zone until I got to the marquee out front and saw that the featured act was Chicago. Really, I kid you not. There’s still Chicago. But I realized as I walked by, passing the same middle-aged scruffy guy who’s always asking if people need tickets (or have them to sell) regardless of the performer, that if *I* felt old when I walked by the usual concert-going crowd, the people in line for Chicago must feel ancient. Hell, it’s probably their kids I’m passing most of the time.
I’ve been thinking a lot about aging these days. We spent a little while with Dan’s grandma last weekend, and his parents have started making plans for retirement. And then one of my coworkers this week is dealing with a severely ill husband (like, so sick they don’t actually know what’s wrong with him after several days, and it’s quite likely he won’t make it through). It’s horrible for me to think about, what she must be going through – she’s had a bad time recently because her father just died a few months ago. And now she might lose her husband, and there’s nothing she can do about it. Her family is in my thoughts, and by extension I have been thinking about this big step I am about to take and how in just a few months I will have legally, emotionally, spiritually and morally officially bound my life to another person’s, and how important that is to both of us. My coworker and her husband are in their early 50s and they’ve been married for at least 25 years. They’ve been partners, friends, lovers, raised two daughters to adulthood successfully. They thought they would have 50 or more years together, what with the average life span in the US being something like 78, but as it turns out they may not.
This scares the crap out of me. I’ve never really thought much about the whole death thing, other than during the Terri Shiavo fiasco a few years ago during which time Dan and I mutually agreed to not let one another end up like that. I guess I just assume that we’ll have 50 or 60 or hell, even 80 years together, dying together in our bed, hand in hand, ages 102 and 104 respectively, but chances aren’t great for that particular scenario. Ultimately, we’ll get as much time as we get to enjoy one another’s company, have adventures together, and hold hands, so perhaps the best thing to do is just to cherish that time.
Right now I feel both young and old, on the precipice of a huge life change, seven years out of college. I’m both young and old to be getting married, depending on one’s perspective. I’m both young and old compared to the local concert-goers. I’m young to be working where I work, surrounded by people at least 25 years my senior, yet old when I read blogs written by people still in college (and college-aged) that are as articulate and well-written as anything by people ten years or more their senior. My coworker is young (in this day and age) to be losing her husband, yet my maternal grandmother lost two husbands by the time she was 45 (and died at age 47). And her sister, 87, had nearly 50 years with her husband before he died in 1991.
After my yoga class yesterday, I was thinking about how awesome it is to have a body capable of all the stretching and flexing and balancing that I’m able to do. I decided long ago to enjoy (relative) youth while I can, to stay in good shape so I can enjoy my body 60 years from now if I’m lucky enough to live that long. I think I need to add to that, to enjoy the youth that WE have, to climb mountains and dance and travel and do all the things that it’s more difficult to do as we get older and have more responsibilities tying us down to the earth, to one spot. I hope to be the spotty, wrinkled old couple dancing at someone’s grandchildren’s wedding, moving together and enjoying one another just as much in our 80s as we have in our 20s. If we don’t get to be that couple, that’s OK too, as long as we relish the time we do have together. I’m keeping my appendages crossed that our time together is both lengthy and joyful.