Saturday, September 25, 2010

Middle-Age Lament

Remember when you were young? Maybe you are reading this and still are. If you are, please, for me, be aware of your youth. I think because I've always had a pessimistic, half-empty natural bent, I was always aware of my impending death (hopefully later than sooner), so even when I was young and spry, I was aware of being young and spry. I was pretty good at keeping my eyes open and appreciative of young skin and energy and being free to travel and roam and stay up late and drink too much caffeine.

One of my oldest friends posted this morning on facebook a photo of us taken more than ten years ago. We were sitting in a 'krcma' (pub) in Slovakia, leaning on each other, pretending to be tipsy. We rarely ever really were. Except that one time when this same friend had me and another friend over to show us the video of his trip to China and kept refilling my glass of 'beton' when I wasn't watching. I was kind of drunk by the end of that night, not even sure how it happened. I was only 24. Twenty-four. Twenty and four years.
I woke up this morning in a funk, despite the warm, bright day. Everything was bristly and irritating to me. The boys left the house to run errands, and I'm drinking too much coffee and listening to old CDs from college, mix-CDs made by friends. Last night Ted took a photo of me and Abe, and I was just a little bit aghast at how old I looked. I feel so middle-aged. I suppose I am. I really am. I'm almost the age my mom was when she married my stepfather. That realization this week made me feel oh so old.

I'm not exactly sure why I'm putting these laments about aging out there. This morning, I simply feel sad, not about aging but about the loss of the lives I've left behind. Maybe it's just that I miss my friends. I've always been quick to make space in my heart for new people. The result is that I have a trail of loved ones behind me. I've never left a place without tears.
It's jarring that realization that you'll never again be as beautiful, as thin, as free to roam. Wouldn't it be nice to go back to relive just one day?

Please don't take this as meaning I don't love my current life. I do. I just might think you're crazy if you never look back without even a twinge of longing every now and then.


Sara said...

When I walk around my college campus (which is in the same town in which we currently live), I often think back to those days when the world seemed so open and full of possibilities. Not that there isn't a lot of living left to do, but with a house, a husband and a kid, the dreams are just different.

Christine said...

I don't know how old you are, actually. I am the worst at guessing that kind of thing. But I like that quality of being able to accept new people into your life, it's a real strength and, to me, shows an ability to be strong as you move through life.

btw, I am 43 y.o., adopting an infant, married for 11 years, mother to a five y.o., and have absolutely never ever been happier. I am older, and working in a nursing home now for five years, I treasure just the ability to get my own self out of bed, off the toilet, and being able to feed myself. (not at all being preachy, but when I first started working with the elderly, they would be sitting in their wheelchairs and I would envy their 'rest' and then I got that they had no choice in the matter at their place in life. I hope you get what I mean).

Kitty said...

I can see how this post follows the previous one so nicely. The thing is, you can tell the younger person to value their years, and they'll say 'yes, yes'...but they'll never really know it until they're in the same shoes later, looking back. Words just can't convey the passage of time or hindsight or awakening.

I'm feeling old too. It's a difficult feeling to shake. I can say you look great in that photo; happy, self-assured in your youth. I can say this will pass and we all have years ahead of us, I can say people live so much longer now than in the past.

I hope you feel better soon.
(you look great in that photo!)

Lisa said...

Hmmm. Yeah. I think this is normal. I like to think we all wake up some days and lament. I do, and it sometimes surprises me and makes me feel bad about myself. Whatever. Just go with it and I betcha that it'll come and go as quickly as a shadow. This is what puts me in my place: vanity of vanities; all is vanity. It's true.

Anonymous said...

Tried to comment on this yesterday, but just couldn't. A few weeks ago I realized I will turn 44 this year (I guess I have been too busy with a 1 and 2-yr-old to think about it). There will be no denying that I am middle age. It is freaking me out. And I wish, wish, wish I had appreciated being 22 with the metabolism of an 22-yr-old. So I am trying to embrace 44 because I am sure when I am 88 I will be saying I wish that I had appreciated being 44 with the hearing, eyesight, mobility and energy level of a 44-yr-old.

becca albertson said...

yep. i love aging (just wrote about it, actually) b/c of the confidence it has given me... etc etc... but completely empathize with grief associated with moving from one phase of life to another. All so good and sad at the same exact time. which is entirely unfair to our frail human emotions... sigh.

coffeemom said...

OK. I'm gonna weigh in here as the old lady. I"m older than you all by far. And I have Gabey. he's 3 1/2. I look like his grandmother, and I don't care. Well, I that I wish I looked younger and felt younger and the aging body just feels like such a traitor many days...that said, the aging heart and mind and soul??? Oh, the pearl of great price. Priceless, that. SO, embrace it Lori, you can and do in the small ways you really are aware of moments each day. Few do that. Unfortunately for you, a few of those moments are gonna be melancholy- and even that provides the savor in a life. Yours.

And, this is not a flip look almost exactly the same in your pics NOW as you did as that young girl tasting the world in that photo....your looks will hold, are holding, and will age beautifully (more so than most!). Be happy. Be content.
Lovely you.

Jennifer said...

I would do many things differently if I were to go back to my 20s. I would have made more time to enjoy life and not buried myself in work. At that age there were tons of singles to do things with, but as you age people pair off and do their own thing.
I also have the urge to tell people who are younger to enjoy it. They have no clue how fast time passes. However, I know they won't believe it until they experience it. Given how slowly time moves until the late 20s, it just seems like middle age is a LONG way away. I use to think 40 was ancient. Then I left it in the dust....

Meg said...

Yes, this is something we all deal with... sigh.

Thanks for the link to that NYT article! How crazy, a dirigible loading dock on top of the Empire State Building? What a great idea! What could possibly go wrong? It's not too often blimps are in the news, thanks for sharing!

Claudia said...

Nodding my head here, nodding my head.

And, just so I sound REALLY old - when did time start going so FAST?

JanKa said...

Hi Lorika,

isn't it funny I open and read your blog after a few weeks just to read you reminisce, also about Slovakia? I miss those days too..And it is good.

My expectations and ideas of how each age feels feels have always been off..and yet I am surprised each time when I try to gain some insight or pespective...objímam Ťa mocno!! Janka