Last week I really dropped the ball on the blog post didn't I? I'm so sorry reader dears. But Monday is a day to recover and recommit. So to start this week off just right I bring the Caveat Queen (my mysterious guest blogging friend) and her thoughts on youth, aging, and a club she never realized the joined.
Sea Monkeys and The Goodness of Aging
That old saying, “Age has its privileges,” always sounded really snooty and annoying, when I was a kid. I understood it to mean that my elders got to do things like go ahead of me in line at the store, have some cool stuff that I didn’t, and maybe they all secretly belonged to some club, and I was on the outside looking in and just didn’t know what I was looking at since I was still a dumb kid.
Well, some of that turned out to be true and some didn’t. Rarely did adults get ahead of me in any lines throughout my youth, unless they only had a few items, and I had a lot. And sometimes my mom still had to tell me to let them go ahead. It’s not that I was greedy; I just didn’t usually notice that stuff. I was a kid. I was busy reading the Archie comics at the register that my mom wouldn’t allow me to have, and performing my rudimentary math skills to see if I could afford a candy bar or not. Some adult standing behind me with a baby in one arm and a thing of laundry soap in the other might as well have been invisible in my world, which ended right about at the belly button of the adult cosmos. Seems to me I got more aware of the needs of others as I got…taller. The ability to make eye contact is a rarely considered factor in the development of compassion.
Anyway, the second point of age having its privileges, adults might have cool stuff that I didn’t, was also mostly true. Kids had cool stuff in my day, but mostly my covetousness surrounded the ownership of comic books and Barbie dolls: the two “shalt nots” in my home. Surely, if those had been allowed and something else banned, it would have been those other banned items I craved. I guess for me, probably for most kids, banning an item creates the greatest desire for it. Or, I am just an early example of how the Fall occurred. I ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Archie and Jughead whenever I could find a kid who collected the comic books and would practically ignore my playmates until I had caught up on the antics of all my favorite characters, peered curiously at the ads for the Sea Monkeys and tried to decide how I could get my friend to defile their comic book and tear out an ad for me to take home, and then figure out what a money order was and where to get one, since there was no way my mother would give me a check for them. This dilemma I never resolved, and so remained Sea Monkeyless throughout my developing years and was sure it would mark me for life, without taking into consideration that I never did see any of my comic book collector friends with a grotto of happy Sea Monkey people grinning and waving to them in their rooms, like the ad showed. That seems strange now, taking into account how many kids’ rooms I lay on the floor of, dodging smelly socks and fetid tennies while talking about Sea Monkeys. The general consensus had been their coolness, and most kids let on that they had an order on the way shortly. Makes one wonder where they are all now: the kids, and the Sea Monkeys. The kids are all on Facebook, I guess. I fear the Sea Monkeys fate is about the same in productivity, but with less IM’ing.
As far as that club, the one the adults belonged to, but I was on the outside of and felt I must be stuck looking in, but without really seeing…that, I think I accomplished a rare childhood feat: I figured that one out way ahead of myself. There is totally a club. It is a grown-up thing, and until you get there, you don’t even know that you’re headed in the front door of the place. I don’t know that much about it myself. There is no Grand Poo-bah to greet and orient you, or perform any rites of membership. Those occur over time. For me, this club, the club of “Adulthood and its Privileges” came after I turned 40. I do mean after. I needed not to say, I Am 40, but I Am Over 40. It is the secret phrase that has let me in to all adult permission and understanding, I am telling you. Let’s say I am struggling to read something on my computer screen, and the person on the phone at work is waiting for me to give a response. If I sigh, and apologize for my over-40 eyes, and that the font might be readable to the 20-something programmer who set up this information, but it’s going to take me a moment to figure out how to get it to a size the rest of us can read, the caller laughs in not just sympathy but empathy, and I have a few more minutes to get the information than I might have otherwise. Same story for memory issues; no caller on a Monday morning isn’t going to relate to a poor-over 40-brain that just doesn’t warm up like it used to-the engine on the car and the one in my head are both needing a little longer to get going these days.
I hated turning 30. I felt frightened of Father Time, as he Death Marched right over me, and what his intentions were for what was suddenly the second half of my life. I had always thought of myself as a glass half full kind of person, if there is such a thing, and suddenly, my glass was much more than half empty and draining quickly. If it had sprung a leak, I couldn’t find it, but was feeling desperate to fill the hole if I could be shown where it was. But the rest of the decade got very busy with children to raise, and then suddenly raise without a partner. Illness blossomed in various places and forms throughout my body, and my focus shifted from career to regaining, literally, my stride. Up and out of a wheelchair, and truly back on my feet, I am looking at my glass again. And whether it is the Over-40 in me, or just standing the tests of time, I find that there is no half-full/half empty to it any longer. There is just a glass, and I am grateful to have it. Age does have its privileges. Fill your own glass, and help others fill theirs too. And you can buy your own Sea Monkeys.
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