Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Feeling my Age . . . Whatever it is

by Judy Merrill Larsen

Okay, I know, by looking at my driver's license or passport (or, quite frankly, in the mirror in the harsh light of day) that I'm 48, that I could stand to lose a few (10? 15? 20?) pounds, and that under no circumstances will I ever regain that youthful flat stomach I once had. I know that. And for the most part, that's fine. I like being an adult. Like that my years give me some clout.

But, I also have to admit that my internal sense of how old I am doesn't always mesh with my actual stats. You know, I'll be feeling cute, walking down the street or hanging out with friends, and I don't necessarily feel middle-aged. Or old enough to have two kids in their twenties (Eek!). But then a clerk will call me "ma'am" and I realize the world sees me differently than the way I think of myself. It's like someone has just shoved a mirror in my face and said, "Hey Lady, take a gander at this." And it's not always pretty.

The first time this hit me upside the head I was much younger. 31 to be exact. I was ice skating up at the municipal rink with my sons. I was pretty smooth. I mean I couldn't do spins or anything, but I could turn and stop without falling. My kids thought I was pretty boffo. And then I wiped out. I hit my head and the head band I was wearing flew off and skittered across the ice. My pride was a bit bruised, but other than that I was fine and dandy. Until the "skating guard" (some high school boy with black skates and a whistle) came over to help me up. I assured him I was fine and he sent me on my way. But not before handing me my head band and saying, "Here's your hair piece." In his eyes, I was some old mom who'd narrowly escaped breaking a hip and needing a wheelchair.

Another time, just two years ago, I was walking across a college campus with my older son. It was a gorgeous spring day, and the campus was teeming with students playing volleyball and soaking in the sun. We were having a good time and laughing and while I KNEW I was a mom and not a co-ed, in some part of my brain I thought, hmm, I remember this, I fit in. Then a frisbee whammed me in the back of my head, I stumbled a half-step, and I was suddenly surrounded by nervous looking young men (my son included) who were worried about me. Because to them, I was old. I was a mom and for all they knew I was about to have a hot flash.

But, Saturday night I was transported back to feeling 17 again. For almost 4 hours. And I was young and thinner and so was everyone else around me. I was on the floor for a Bruce Springsteen concert and I was BORN TO RUN, baby. For 3 hours and 20 minutes I danced and sang and cheered and raised my fist high because tramps like us were out on the streets (oh oh oh oh oh!) and dancing in the dark. Now, there are plenty of reasons I love Springsteen--his songs resonate with me unlike any other, and he's still (at age 58) totally hot in a pair of jeans, and he's been the soundtrack of my life for more than 30 years. But, for me now, approaching 50, I especially love that his songs make me feel like dancing and rocking and rolling. When "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out" comes on the car radio, I'm dancing in my seat and am a teenager again with my whole life in front of me and the road is wide open. And no one can convince me I'm old.

Of course, when I got home I soaked my swollen feet which I hadn't had to do the first time I saw Bruce 28 years ago, and when I was trying to fall asleep, the music still pounding in my soul, I had to get up and take a Tums because the glass of wine I'd had when I was soaking my feet brought on some heartburn.

So I'll keep holding on to the warm memory of Saturday night. And when I'm feeling stiff and old, all I have to do is put a Bruce CD in and hit "play."

p.s. And, no, that's not me in the picture (although in my mind, that's how I looked). It was a young girl he brought on stage to dance with him during "Dancing in the Dark."


Lisa said...

Dance on Judy! We must be on the same wavelength today. Last night I posted about finding my first gray hair :)

Judy Merrill Larsen said...

Your first??!!! You're a spring chicken, my dear. And highlights--that's the secret to covering the gray!

Joanne said...

Sounds like you had a night to remember. Springsteen played our Civic Center twice on this tour, but I couldn't get to either! Isn't live music amazing? We got ourselves to five concerts this summer, and all I can say is this ... Rock on, Judy.

Toni said...

I understand and I bet my trick for covering gray hair is unique - I went bald and I love it, especially when I'm having a hot flash.

Judy Merrill Larsen said...

Joanne--Yes, live music is incredible. You rock on, yourself!

Toni--Unique, yes. But I bet it looks great!

Daisy said...

I'm honestly laughing out loud! Oh, the shocking reality of aging. I'm hoping that 50 (in a few years!) will be freeing.

Judy Merrill Larsen said...

Daisy--Yes, laughing is always a good response--I hear it's also like exercise for your face!

Barb McKone said...

Damn, he looks GOOD! I forgive him for not playing No Retreat, No Surrender because he played Born to Run and my son was there to hear it! He's got the poster above his bed, and for one night, at least in my eyes, we were the same age. Wait, does that make him 49 or me 15?