For some reason, I’m becoming more and more obsessed over my age. I can’t decide if I’m growing old, growing immature, if I’m right where I’m supposed to be, or even if the subject is really worth the energy and attention I keep giving it.
Case in point: I was checking out at Whole Foods recently and the cashier was telling me all about her quarter-life crisis. She’s 23 and had just finished reading a book that told her she was a prime candidate for having a quarter life crisis. Several things about the conversation had me brooding over the whole age thing.
The first: it seems like I’ve prematurely turned into one of those Old Grocery Groupies (OGGs) — the old ladies who frequent the market so much they know everyone and all their business there. When I was 16, I wore a bright red polyester uniform as a cashier at the Piggly Wiggly in Ocoee, Florida. I knew several OGGs. I knew how many grandkids each one had. I knew who were Crackers and who were Yankee transplants and they knew just about everything about me. I remember them being much older than I am now, and yet I was so relieved the other day when J___ in produce told me she broke up with her loser boyfriend (finally), I know which of the women cutting meat behind the deli counter is a vegetarian, and when the 23-year-old cashier told me about her quarter-life crisis, it wasn’t the first thing I learned about her. I’m sure they all know quite a bit about me, too.
The second thing: my gut reaction to the quarter-life crisis issue was “What the hell is wrong with America’s youth today?” They shouldn’t be taking life so seriously at that age, should they? I didn’t. I don’t even think I’m taking it that seriously now. But really, how could it be that they’re that disillusioned with who they’ve become — when they haven’t really had time to become anyone yet? At her age, her biggest crisis should be running out of cheap wine before the party is over, right? After all, at my age, I consider a crisis to be running out of good vodka before cocktail hour is over.
But, it hit me that having an age-crisis is a luxury, pure and simple. Only people who have very little else in their life to complain about seem to have them. Do you think folks in Japan, Lydia, hell for that matter most of Africa, Haiti, and Greenland (before you go checking the front page news, I put that last one here because it’s so damned cold there all the time) have age-related crises? I don’t think so. I think they have real ones to worry about.
Which explains why, when said cashier was telling me about it, I told her the answer wasn’t to go skydiving, as she was intending to do to heal herself, but to go out and celebrate her age. Because I think that’s really how we put meaning into things and how we value them in the long run, right? We celebrate them. If all you have to complain about is that you’re twenty-three or that you’re forty-three, you should throw one hell of a party about it.