Gray Matters - I'm getting too old for this
Belfast — Shortly after celebrating the arrival of 2014, I came to the realization that I have now been out of high school for 20 years.
After going through a few different emotional stages, the biggest one being denial (there's no way it's been that long already), I finally came to terms with the fact that I am now part of the age group that myself and my peers used to see as "old" not so very long ago.
Now that I'm in my late-thirties I've gained some perspective over the last couple of decades. And no, it's not because I've finally reached this time in my life and wish to ignore the fact that as humans we all age; I often like to joke about it, but it is what it is. I feel that I've simply learned how to work toward changing aspects of my life that are within my control, and to accept that changing some things in life just isn't an option, no matter how much we wish it could be.
Yes, things like graying hair, added difficulty keeping unwanted weight off and the small lines forming around my eyes — I prefer to call them laugh lines instead of wrinkles, because it feels like a more positive and accepting way to view the inevitable.
Most of that stuff I have control over. I can choose to change the color of my hair (I do, and often), I can try to get to the gym more often than I do (working on that). The wrinkles? Well they'll keep coming I'm sure, but a little sunscreen can certainly help.
It's the physical reminders that I'm no longer 18 years old that get me occasionally. I try to see the humor in that as I can, but sometimes it's not easy to do.
If I set out to do a bunch of yard work on a Saturday, or spend the afternoon playing a hard-fought round of Frisbee, I can count on finding muscles in my body I didn't know I had because the following day, they will all hurt. As a high school senior, I could have done all that stuff in the course of a day and hopped out of bed the next morning, ready to do it over again. Long ago, if I did a lower body workout at the gym, I'd usually be sore for most of the next day. Now, it's about three days of recovery, depending on how hard I work.
And that goes for the occasional evening of revelry, too. This past weekend, my co-workers and I went out on one of our highly-anticipated Journal crew beer nights, and while I had a great time with great friends, at the end of the night (and well into the next day) I was reminded of a similar reality.
After one too many beers, and an ill-conceived idea that one Kamikaze "couldn't hurt," myself and my boyfriend Mark — who, for the record is nearly a year my senior — soon learned exactly how much it could indeed, hurt. I'm sure it has happened to the best of us (here's where I will acknowledge that I'm saying this to make myself feel less idiotic about the events that followed) but it always a harsher lesson when you're the one getting schooled. Normally I pride myself on my ability to pace myself and avoid falling into a drunken stupor, but this night was the exception to my typical rule, for sure.
We were fine until we got back to my house late that evening. We were responsible, in that I left my vehicle parked safely in a public parking lot in town and summoned a cab to get back to Swanville, so I felt pretty good about that. But then things went downhill from there (figuratively and literally).
Mark hopped out of the cab and began walking over to the front steps to unlock the door. That's when he figured out the walkway had been rendered a veritable skating rink after the rain, as I saw his feet fly out from under him and he fell flat on his butt.
I'm going to go out on a limb here and say the drinks we consumed earlier in the night didn't do him many favors as far as balance and coordination.
I stepped out to see if he was alright, and I also intended to help him to his feet. That is, until I did an instant replay of his digger and proceeded to skid down the driveway, on my butt, in Mark's general direction.
Our cab driver, who I've known for years as "Big Al," rolled down his window and asked if we were OK. Yes, we told him as we advised him to be careful backing out of the yard because it was slippery.
As if he couldn't recognize that on his own.
But it wasn't over yet. As Mark clambered up the step to unlock the door so I could find my bed and lie in it, I came to the conclusion that I was, in fact, not feeling well. Long story short, I may or may not have gotten sick on my own shoes.
My punishment for my overdoing it continued well into Saturday, as I dragged myself, dressed like a flannel-and-denim rag, to the laundromat to carry out my necessary household tasks.
Nope, things just aren't like they used to be anymore. There was a time when I could occasionally go to weekend-long music festivals, consume my favorite beers and go on to revel another day. Now, a hangover is a given, and it's almost always an all-day event (especially if I venture into Kamikaze territory. I mean, it is, after all, named after Japanese aviators on a suicide mission, so that should have given me the first clue, but I digress...).
OK, life. Lesson learned. That's not to say I won't make any more mistakes in the future, but there's one I will certainly avoid, and I can certainly control that.
I just hope my memory doesn't start to go next. What was that drink I can't have again?