I watched a movie this weekend (“Liberal Arts” — I don’t exactly recommend it, but don’t not recommend it either), in which one of the supporting characters said to the main character, “I know you still feel like you’re in college… but the fact is, you’re not in college anymore, so you’ve got to stop acting like you are.” (The main character was 35… and was dating a 19-year-old.)
This got me thinking.
I remember my grandfather saying that he still felt like a teenager, and he was shocked when he looked in the mirror and saw an old man. I thought that was peculiar when I was in eighth grade (the age I was when he died), because I think I’d always assumed that adults sort of… I don’t know… knew what they were doing. After all, I felt my own age… why should he not feel his?
But recently, I met up with a friend of mine down in the university district of Tucson. I still drive around down there relatively often, but I don’t usually hang out there anymore. I was struck with a combination of nostalgia and this idea that, even though it’s been almost a decade since I was an undergrad (don’t you dare do the math), I still *feel* like a college student. I almost could have been one (until I saw how young they all looked!)
When I was in college, I had all kinds of dreams… I wanted to travel and explore and have grand adventures, and I definitely did not want to settle into the “American Dream” (in fact, I didn’t want to have roots, ever. I wanted to move around 30 times in my life. The idea of a little white picket fence and 2.3 kids and a dog made me want to pull my hair out.) I still want to travel and have adventures, but life has a way of settling you in a single area for the most part after awhile… and there are good reasons for this. Being a vagabond has nowhere near the same appeal that it used to have.
Still, when I talk with my friends now about topics I used to relegate only to the most “boring” of adults (such as finances and babies and mortgages), I stop and think in shock, oh, look at us, we actually grew up!, like I never expected it to happen. I don’t have my own kids yet, but when I see friends with their toddlers and especially school-aged kids, I stop and remember what I thought of adults when I was that age. And I realize, that’s what they think of me.
I’m not that old yet, but I’m already beginning to understand what my grandfather meant. I wonder if I’ll still feel about 22 when I’m 75.