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Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Ch Ch Ch Changes 

Only 5 posts, but already themes emerge. Age is the one I want to avoid. Ok, deny.

When I was in high school, one of my cousin's best friends, who was preoccupied with death, worked as an attendant at a nursing home. I was impressed with the affection this high school boy had for the patients he cared for. I was fascinated with the relationships he had with these people who had lived lives that I couldn't understand, and who wouldn't be bothered to consider the life that I was living. To me, old people were another species and we had no common language.

After Rob's shifts at the home, I would push for stories. He found my curiosity amusing and told me that he'd felt the same way before he'd started working there. So, he said, he asked one old guy what it was like to be old. I was shocked, "You said that?!" He said it hadn't bothered the old guy, in fact he'd thought it was funny, "They know they're old, you know." "Well, what did he say?" "That inside he felt the same as I did, it was only the outside that had changed." I was blown away, and Rob, seeing the expression on my face, said, "Yeah, amazing isn't it?"

Recently I went with 3 co-workers to look at a fitness facility. The registrar assumed we were there for the family plan. I was stunned, but then realized that I was in fact old enough to have sons as old as the 2 younger of my colleagues (and, in fact, I have a daughter their age). We corrected the registrar's misperception, and later regretted our honesty: the fee for four family members would have been considerably cheaper. But it wasn't so much honesty that kept me from using the misperception – it was pride.

I feel the same inside, and I'm constantly surprised that other people perceive me as old. As Rob said some 33 years ago, it's amazing.


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