Gone are the weekday hangovers where you’re hiding behind a computer screen or pulling a Costanza and sleeping under the desk, just counting down the seconds till the acceptable time to jet out of work hits. Or in my case, standing before my students with sunglasses on getting pegged with questions of anonymous origin like dodgeballs in the dark.
Those were the days when I could shake off late nights and still have the energy and motivation to provide my students with the best English education one can offer. Not anymore. Now, I just wear sunglasses because my eyes have become overly sensitive to bright lights, which segues perfectly into the Fairfield Alumni event I attended last night. As I caught up with ’08, ’09, and ’10 grads, a theme of the night quickly revealed itself: WE’RE GETTING OLD.
I don’t know if it was that we were vigilantly monitoring our alcohol consumption despite today likely being a work-from-home day. Or maybe it was that we were talking about being or becoming homeowners, having kids, or even getting a dog. Maybe it was that we were there interacting as professionals, not because we wanted the open bar. And we actually discussed ways to improve the alumni’s connection with the University – I mean real discussion, not pithy, frivolous nonsense. People were thinking and engaging, not just throwing pleasantries at each other and uh-huhing the night away.
My, my how the times have changed.
In a good way.
That’s what a friend and I were discussing last week. Your priorities change. Your habits change. And your body’s ability to bounce back changes. When you don’t, when you keep chasing that sunlight on the regular, you end up looking like Rip Torn – sunken, glassy, spiritless eyes and sagging, dog-faced jowels and all – when you’re in your 30s. And I don’t want that. Or to feel like I’m in the washer machine for three days because the hangovers get longer and longer the older I get.
And I am getting older, I can’t avoid that reality. Just the other day my wife and I were talking about our calendars, and I mentioned that I was going to go to dinner for Chris’s birthday in May. Chris is the boy I mentored from 8th grade until his high school graduation – and whom I still informally advise (See “Your Deeds Are Your Monuments” for more on that). She asked me how old he was turning. I said 20. “Wow!” she cried, and at first I said, “What?” Then, I realized. He’s a man. Just like my former students who are 21. Just like my high school students who I was only five or six years older than when I first started teaching; they’re 25/26 now.
That’s where I am in life now. Looking for a new job and looking at my future as my wife and I prepare to move into a bigger place with a true second bedroom – deep breath – for what will eventually become a child’s room (G0d-willing). Either that or we’ll have that broke-ass Sinbad move in and film House Guest 2.
And I feel comfortable, maybe not comfortable to have a kid, but still comfortable. And we have time for the kids. This is usually the point where I’d chafe from too much adulting and have a flight reaction and need to go run wild for a weekend to feel young again. But I don’t really have that urge anymore. I guess it means I’m slowing down in my old age and finally maturing. Because we all grow up, even the ones of us who feel too young to grow up (see ‘Knowing When You’re Too Young to Grow Up‘).