Monday, November 17, 2008


I'm old.

I did the math--54 days until 40.

But that's not what made me feel old.

On Saturday, I took my 12-year-old son to to the university for the Scout merit badge Pow-Wow. It happens to be my alma mater. And from the moment I set foot on campus, I felt 22 again.

(I loved college. Loathed junior high, tolerated most of high school, liked my senior year of high school . . . but I loved college.)

My first jolt came in the Humanities Building. I hadn't been inside it for years. From the outside, most of it looks exactly the same (they did put an addition on one end.) So I was unprepared for the inside . . .

Presumably the walls are still in the same places, and there were still staircases that had a vague familiarity, but otherwise--zip. Zero.

I once knew that building inside out. I could point out the copy center and the various classrooms where I took Shakespeare and Linguistics and Romantic Poetry and Victorian Women's Lit and Mystery Novels. I knew the spot in the halls I preferred to sit and read between classes. I even remember where I was sitting, three months pregnant with my first and waiting to do an oral presentation on Florence Nightingale, when I heard my first labor and delivery horror stories.

Still, it wasn't all bad. It looks a lot nicer. There are benches against the walls so students don't have to sit on the floors. It was absolutely empty on Saturday morning. And I had an iPod to listen to and a notebook to write in. I coped.

But my pride had taken a crack in its foundation. What is the saying about pride and falls?

Mine was about to fall.

I spent an hour in the bookstore, which was much less changed, wandering up and down the aisles browsing like I last did, oh, fifteen or twenty years ago. I was feeling fairly secure about my appearance. I know I look younger than my age. With my new jeans (BodyBugg still working--down 15 pounds) and black ankle boots and slim-fit long-sleeved t-shirt, I thought I could pass for a grad student.

Then a man in a scout uniform asked, "You're here with your son for the Pow-Wow too?"

Ack. My prideful foundation trembled. But that's okay, I told myself, he's one of us--a father who has lots of experience picking out other parents.

I chose several books and waited to pay. The cashier asked the young man in front of me for his student ID. He gave it and received his discount.

Me? I was smugly happy to pay full price as long as I got to say breezily, "Thank you so much, but I'm no longer a student."

She didn't even ask.

Bam! There I was, in the ruins of my pride, facing the fact that I can no longer pass for a student--even of the graduate variety.

Do you suppose being in Maui for my birthday will make the pain less?


Katie said...

In a word, Yes.

You do look fabulous and way too young for your own good. When people start asking if I'm your mother, we are going to have to do something to age you up a bit.

Katydid said...

Well, I think you have dewy skin...and great curves. Your hair does allow for bangs to cover wrinkles. But...oh you don' have them. From one almost gasping to 40 to're hot.