I’m not sure when I got old. For most of my life I’ve been the youngest. I was the little sister. My birthday is in June, so I was the youngest in my class. When I became a teaching assistant in grad school I was the youngest TA at 22. Then when I became a reference assistant at a public library at 25, I was the youngest reference assistant. Later when I started working at another public library, I was one of the youngest employees there as well. When I first got my current job, I was one of the youngest.
Than came Young Alice. I call her Young Alice because she has my name. Which is unfair, because I had it first. Not only that, she has a job that makes way more money than mine makes. While filling in, I decided I really wouldn’t like that job because you get a lot more students expecting you to help them, whereas at the moment I work on the far end of the second floor and no one comes here unless they really, really want to, or more likely, they’re extremely lost. So it’s not like I’m jealous of her position per say. But her age disturbs me.
You see, Young Alice is almost 12 years younger than I am. How is that possible when most of the time I feel like I’m 12, even though my eldest child is almost 14? And these babies are just going to keep coming because I keep getting older while new people continue to be born and get jobs and crap. WTF. This is not the way I ever pictured it. You never picture growing old when you’re young. It’s like, I will be this way FOREVER, yay!
Young Alice is where I was so many years ago. Young, idealistic, full of energy. I realize now why some women get really irritated at younger women. It’s like, will you get older and get jaded with life already? But honestly, I bear Young Alice no ill will. I don’t want to be that age again. I’d like to have that energy and awesome metabolism, sure, but you couldn’t pay me to go back to 26.
I like where I am now, because – dare I say it – I actually have a little wisdom to offer. I offer it to my children, all the time. Know when to hold ’em, I say. Know when to fold ’em. I talk to them about my values, and why I have them, while trying to precariously balance between telling them how I feel and telling them what they should feel. Yet it really is a gift to be able to offer the younger generation some of what you’ve learned. It’s something that some of my former bosses, as bitter as they were, didn’t get because they were busy being jealous of that all revered youth. Youth is fleeting, but intelligence (or dumbness) is not. It’s with you forever, or at least until you start losing your memory and pooping in your pants again. Okay, that wasn’t a great endorsement for growing older.
Sure, there is a lifetime ahead of me of working at a job that – no matter how much it fits me – is going to be long and boring a lot of the time. And eventually I’ll get gray hairs and wrinkles – I think I may have some wrinkles on my forehead though I try not to look too hard. Because then I see the very faint mustache that no one else notices but me. I hope. So far my kids appreciate what I have to offer, though I’m well aware there will come a day when, as my mother has said, I will turn into Cassandra from Greek Mythology. She knew the future, but no one believed her. Welcome to the teenage years.
I am becoming living history. I remember the Oklahoma City bombing and the babies that died. I remember 9/11 and the terror we felt. I remember what it was like to carry two babies inside me. I remember what it was like to be a young mom, poor and half-insane from sleep deprivation. I remember what it was like to fail, to feel hopeless, and to rise back again.
Everything that has happened to me, good and bad, has shaped who I am now. I’ve accomplished a lot. I’ve also made a lot of mistakes – but not nearly enough. Because I’ve been afraid to try. I don’t want my kids to be afraid. I have the power to help them with that. And one day, if I’m lucky, I’ll live long enough to be a grumpy old bag that goes to the library and annoys the crap out of people but gets away with it cause isn’t she sweet? Young Alice may be the one helping me find that elusive book that doesn’t exist cause I just made up.
Till then, there’s a lot of life left to do. Time to get to it. As soon as I’m done watching this youtube video with cats.
Ahhh, a GIF-less environment. So pleasant. I’m gonna go tell TD that he should consider the same. Can I send him here to look? Bwahahaha! Seriously though Alice, I get where you’re coming from – I’m 56 and am still surprised by how young professionals from doctors to cops have become. Younguns. Having grown up around some teenagers, you should be aware that from their age 14 or so, you’ll get dumber and dumber until they reach about 21 and then your intelligence will level out and gradually increase. By the time they reach 30 you’ll be as smart as you are now and not long after you’ll be even smater than you’ve ever been – some times so smart, you’ll wonder why you don’t know the answer. Hope you’re prepared.
I do get some smug sense of superiority when I can see exactly where a yougun’s actions are headed – about 4 steps further ahead than they can. I suppose I did the same, but they seem to think they are inventing the world as they learn and grow older. Ho, Ho! It can be amusing (i.e. when their transparent plotting goes astray) and sometimes sad (when you see them hanging out with the wrong folks and know bad things will happen and they don’t see it or believe that others can influence their actions). Que sera.
Enjoy your new found and increasing wisdom and try not to dwell on how physical actions are not as automatic or easy as they once were. Fulfillment does not lay in the direction of the physical. Great post Alice, Thanks!
Just for that, Paul, my next post will be inundated with GIF’s.
Ah, see I’ve always gotten along about as well or better with people who are older than I am. I like hearing what they have to say now, much better than when I was 23 and wanted babieezzzz and my mom was like, no you don’t and I was like I’ll show you and then it was like WTF did I do? Etc.
And watching the younger set screw up – yes, it is entertaining. I told a student (these guys are now born after I graduated high school) she couldn’t check out a book and she actually said “What am I supposed to do, read it here?” In a library? Holy crap!
Alice, I love everything about this post. I love the humor and the insight, and the glimpse into your humanity. This is why I lurve you so much.
Aws, thanks you guys. You are totes my besties!
I’m still the youngest person officially on our team, but actually the most mature when it comes to a lot of things. And it is weird.
When I think about how old I am my first thought is that I’m still 21. There wasn’t anything super magical that happened when I was 21 – other than divorcing Door #1 – but that’s just where my brain stopped. Maybe it was all the whiskey, hard telling.
And yes, we have gray hairs now (thank god for good hairdressers and chemicals), and the damn mustache that isn’t bad enough to bleach or wax (YET) but annoys us, and I’ve got a lovely little garden of chin whiskers, and the wrinkles…
But I’m with you – I totally would not EVER go back.
Yeah, 21 is a good age. You’re old enough to do whatever you want to, but young enough recover quickly. Of course I used my youth to get married and have babiezzz but I guess it’s better than doing it now cause I would never, ever make it. I’d just fall over and die I think, wrinkles and all.
I don’t remember much of 21. I signed my divorce papers on my birthday and then proceeded to spend the next 6 months or so almost constantly drunk. And then I met door #2 and was both drunk and stoned. Good times.
I’m pretty much the oldest where I work…I’d go back to my 20s in a New York second if I could. Really enjoyed your post. Thanks!
I don’t really remember much of my twenties. I was finishing school and being a mom to young children so it’s like it was sort of wiped out in my memory, and replaced with the Teletubbies.
I love your list of what you remember… =)
Agree completely with you, and SO wish I had my old body back… this one is a little worse for the wear, truth be told. =) BTW, I have bangs, and they hide the tiny wrinkles really well. =)
Ah, bangs, interesting idea. Except I’m lazy, so I just pull it back in a barret and ta-da I am ready. I should really go back to wearing makeup though . . . eh, I’m lucky to get my teeth brushed.
I’m sayin’ !!!!! =)
I tried some CC cream a few weeks ago, and it was so pasty… I remembered why I do not wear makeup anymore. =) In 2012 when my hair was REALLY long, almost waist length, I would tie it in a knot so I didn’t have to mess around with ponytail holders… I totally get lazy. =)
I love you, Alice, but just picture me rolling eyes at your “ancient” self. Don’t let her fool you, people, Alice isn’t that old. She hasn’t even hit middle age. She’s a thirty-something, and unlike my sister of the same age, not a grandma yet.
You were plenty smart at 26, and we both know plenty of old fools. Remember, “you’re only young once, but you can be immature forever.”
This from the gal that used to brag she was 2 years younger than me when in fact she is 14 months younger than me so there. And I’m not talking so much about being academically “smart” as being “experienced” – there’s a a difference there. The experiences, and understanding said experiences, only comes as we age.
Experience comes with experiencing things–and learning from those experiences. Some people don’t. Which is where intelligence comes in–and I mean overall intelligence, not just book smarts.
Oh, yeah, true. Some people don’t learn from experiences. Like Republicans.
I remember the days when I was the youngest. Back then, people would remark, “Oh, you seem much older.” As in mature, so I took it as a compliment. I work on a college campus and have finally come to accept that no one is mistaking me for a student. Makes me sad.
I’ve always had people say I look younger than I am (I especially revel in this now, even if it’s mostly people who are like over 60 who say so.)
Ha ha – I remember being the 2nd youngest at my work…and now I’m one of the people that’s worked here the longest and we have 20 something in our midst. As I sit here typing with a thumb injury [complete with splint] and a hamstring injury (both going on a year for their ‘recovery time)…and I figured I’m now old.. Which means that I have to start using “the” in the wrong places… as in:
The rock and roll
See??? If you start craving a pantsuit – RUN, RUN FOR YOUR LIFE, ALICE!!! Or walk real fast as we’re, well, old and slow (as my son tells me).
I realized I was old when I tried to jump on a trampoline. I wrote a post on it – the formatting is crap cause I moved it from blogger to here (it’s old like me!) https://aliceatwonderland.wordpress.com/2012/06/11/view-from-a-trampoline/
hee hee – I love (and still do) jump on trampolines. My only saving grace is all my injuries are from being active – they just take forever to heal (or so it feels).
It’s such a shame the older people get, the more invisible they become. Younger people offer polite smiles and then ignore them; television stations believe they’re not relevant. The only place they become more visible is to companies selling wrinkle creams and adult diapers. A shame when the older among us come with so much wisdom and experience, just as you point out. Other cultures get it right. Not sure why we can’t. Must be that “pooping in your pants” thing…
Yes! That is one thing I miss about the public library. There were some of the sweetest older people there (and some grumpies too, but mostly they were nice). I got the idea that some of them came to the library mostly for companionship – a good reason why we still need brick and mortar libraries.
When I first started working, I was a couple of times referred to as “Boy Wonder.” Now it’s more like, “Boy, wonder where I put my glasses…”
Great piece, says the man who suddenly finds himself working with colleagues his children’s age.
“Boy Wonder” haha, like Robin. Poor Robin. Batman was such a jerk to him, dressing him up in that costume that screamed “Kick my butt!”
The students here are getting closer to my children’s ages. Soon they will just be four years older than my daughter. WTF.
I’m laughing and nodding my head as I read your post. I, too, feel young, at least in spirit. Although my body feels creaky. I guess this how it feels to be older. Everyone around is so much younger, even like all of a sudden. I feel that way sometimes when I read other bloggers. They will stop and say how old they old are and then give some point of reference and I’ll say “Wow, I had already graduated high school by then.” You know what I mean?! How did this happen? Time keeps on marching forward and there’s just no stopping it! Dammit! Great post!
Youth is wasted on the young.
If I could keep what I already know, I would jump back to 26 in a heartbeat.
No matter what I see staring back at me in the mirror, I will always be somewhat of a juvenile inside. I don’t wish to go back either, I just prefer not to grow any older.
I’m approaching my 34th birthday. I don’t feel 34. I have days when I feel 14, and then days when I feel 134 (well, that’s most days when it comes to getting out of bed, actually). It seems that people don’t believe me when I say I’m in my 30’s, I’ve had several folks say that they thought I was in my early 20’s. Which in some way is kind of cool, but in others not so cool because it means they think I’m going to be around longer than I might actually be around…
lol, I have had people say I look younger than I am – usually they are older, so I don’t know what that means exactly. I told one lady I had a 13 year old and she was like, did you have her at 12 then? No, but I love you, ma’m.
This is beautiful!! This is exactly how I want to feel as I age – that the years were fun, but I’d never go back because I appreciate where I am. I know I’m young at 25 – but I definitely feel that right now. The “oh, 18 was great/21 was great – but I’d never go back!” And I definitely hope I can be like you and stay that way 🙂