“You are one of the old guys!”
I know it’s rare that we catch our aging in progress; it’s difficult for us to notice the process taking place. There’s often a moment of sudden, painful clarity.
The above quote was one of my moments.
“You should talk to one of the old guys,” I believe is what I said just before the fatal blow to my youthful pride. In the middle of a conversation with military coworkers, I thought of myself as roughly their peer, in age and experience. One young woman informed me ever so gently that this was not the case.
I joined the Air Force early, at age 17, which required a parent’s signature to approve. So I have often been the young one in any group. Once that changed, the reactions shifted to “whoa, I didn’t realize you’ve been in the service that long.” Even those eventually ceased.
I’ve already done my 20 years. Two days from now, I will finish my 22nd year of active duty. My hair is going gray (so my daughter likes to remind me), I sometimes limp, and I serve on a no-running profile, so age has taken its toll.
Speaking of the daughter, one of the surprised reactions I get is at the fact that I have two teenaged children. Maybe most folks have better sense than to start so young, or maybe there’s still a touch of “I didn’t know you were that old” left.
But today after flying for twelve hours, I got my own surprise reaction when my daughter’s Facebook profile revealed she is engaged to her boyfriend of over a year.
Now this is nothing out of the blue–they’ve been talking and plotting for quite some time. But a distant concept that “someday soon after I turn eighteen I plan to marry him” is different than a public proclamation of “this is happening.”
I will turn 40 just before she turns 18, so it’s not like I can say I’m still young. I’m just not old enough for this quite yet.
After its reign of terror through Hollywood, the music industry, and the Cincinnati Zoo, 2016 struck one last, very personal blow.
Bring on the new year, this one sucks.
…but maybe not too fast. There are only so many more moments left, like snowflakes falling on a warm winter day, melting and vanishing before they touch the ground.