I apologize to those of you who look for my blog posting every Monday. I’ve been busy with travel, interviews, and with ending my employment at the nonprofit I discussed in a blog at the end of October. Hopefully I’ll have more time to discuss all things related to Boy At The Window and other things from my life and times.
Today’s my wife’s birthday. She’s forty-one, or, as she would say, “nine years away from fifty.” I’ve been with her consistently as friend, boyfriend, fiancee and husband for more than twelve years, and have known her since she was twenty-three. We’ve earned four degrees, raised one kid to within a few months of kindergarten, been to the emergency room seven times, traveled from Seattle to Orlando and many places in between, and otherwise watched each other grow into this tweener age. We’re both too old to be young and too young to be old, and don’t look our age at all. In my wife’s case, she could easily knock thirteen or fourteen years off and most people wouldn’t question it.
There’s no doubt, though, that we are getting older. I’ve spent most of my life wanting to be around folks with a sense of experience and wisdom, which usually led me to befriend or date or “pick up” women older than me or often become friends with guys as much as a generation older. Now that I’m within two years of forty, I realize that I’m old enough to have little in common with folks past their early fifties. I still play basketball and can still guard guys in their twenties. I still have energy to teach my son how to run and catch a football and workout on the same day. My views of the Baby Boom generation and the Civil Rights era are a hybrid of ’60s liberalism, ’80s realism and ’90s multiculturalism. I haven’t bought a brand-new CD since the middle of ’06, the longest drought I’ve had since I started buying music (which was in ’85, by the way). Even when I’ve been on the verge of eviction (in ’91, and ’93) and been unemployed (in ’97), I’ve found money to buy music.
I haven’t gone so far as my wife to start counting the days and week and months until the next decade. You’re as young as you feel and think about yourself, or something like that. I know that I feel younger now at thirty-eight than I did at thirty-one or thirty-two, in part because I’m less inclined to serve as family advisor now than I was before the family intervention in ’02. But I also know that without a jump rope, treadmill, weights and a basketball, I’d weigh at least 250 instead of a steady 228 or 230. My knees would likely have required surgery from the years of wear and tear due to basketball and years of walking all over Mount Vernon and super-hilly Pittsburgh were it not for consistently working out over the past decade or so. I’ve resolved to be in good enough shape to continue to play sports with my son, at least until he’s in high school. In short, I have to stay in shape until I’m fifty. No need to start counting down yet.
But I do know when and why I began to look to other, older folks for friendship and for relationships. By older, of course, I’m talking for the most part at least by two or three years — but in many cases, five, ten, even twenty years in age. It was in response to the fallout from my second crush and from my episode with my dorm mates in the middle of my freshman year. I made a concerted and deliberate effort to invite older folks into my life because I realized that everyone my age as a college student knew less about the scars of life than I did. At least I thought so at the time. All I knew was that I was eighteen years old and that most of my classmates in middle and high school and college dorm mates had no clue as to the real me. Heck, I wasn’t entirely sure who the real me was back then. So if it meant having my ego stroked by a twenty-four-year-old woman or hanging out with guys who were twenty-seven and twenty-eight in order to learn more about myself, my likes and dislikes, then I did it. Most of the time, though, I’m sure my questions about school and dating and graduate school and life stroked their egos as well.
My marriage to my wife is in part a result of these first attempts at becoming a whole and more mature person. That’s not to say that I married her because she’s almost three years older. I married her because I love her, and the fact that she’s older says something about our relative lots in life and about our mutually shared goals for our lives. Still, I’ve learned that regardless of age or maturity, that we all are prone to moments of petulance and goofball kinds of behavior, especially if our lives have always involved serious crises and circumstances. And we’re both guilty of performing at children at moments in which acting our age would have been more appropriate.
If there’s anything I could give my wife besides a new car or a new house, it would be a new sense of herself as a youthful person. Even with our relationship and our shared duties as parents, eight years of marriage and a whiny four-and-a-half-year-old can take its toll. If she saw herself as two years away from her thirties or as young as she looks on the outside, I’d guess that she would have more energy for herself and for our son. That said, she’s also not moving around like she’s in her seventies. My wish is that she finds herself feeling younger as she gets older.
On another note, I’m happy to say that my Giants won on Sunday, another sign that games (and life) are won on the field of play (or battle) and not on paper. Like a birthday celebration, watching your favorite football team win the Super Ball does provide a youthful spring in your step. It certainly has in mine.