I look younger than I am. I feel older than I am. I joke with my friend that I have “age dysphoria” – my bastardized version of “gender dysphoria,” a term used in transgender discussions denoting a disconnect with biological sex or birth-assigned gender.
I’ve nearly gotten into physical fights with people who say things like “You wouldn’t remember that, you’re so young” or “Just wait till you get older!” I cringe when waitresses call me “hon” or “sweetie.” I spent most of my twenties in a state of discontent. All that energy and motion, college days amassing friends, drugs, sex, go go go and don’t forget to figure out who you are. It wasn’t for me. I was a lousy young person.
I’m still young, relatively speaking. But the older I get the more relieved I feel. There’s more time to reflect on what’s happened. Things slow down (even as time seems to pass more quickly).
The term “age dysphoria” is a bit of a bad joke – everyone starts young and gets older, while transgender people don’t have the luxury of naturally migrating from one gender to another. I realize now that when people assume I don’t know something because of my age, or call me naive, they aren’t putting me down. They just don’t understand that inside me is an 80-year-old man who wanted to learn to play bridge when he was in high school.
I’m writing this in early September. There’s a palpable chill to the air. I love summer, don’t get me wrong, and I had a good one this year with just enough dancing, swimming and hiking. But summer is youth. I remember lying in bed one summer Saturday morning when I was eleven and listening through my open window. Kids playing, dogs barking, cars whooshing past. It was all too much. I was immobilized by the bounty of it – too much life. I didn’t know where to start.
There’s a relief to fall, to the downturn. It’s rained so much in the past few days, all I’ve done is sit inside and watch movies and I’ve loved every second of it. Bad weather means I don’t have to go outside, I don’t have to take advantage of every single minute of my life and live as fully as possible. I’ve always been better at sitting back and contemplating. Nostalgia is my favorite emotion.
Sometime in July it occurred to me that I only have a limited amount of summers left. How many? Fifty? Forty? It’s sad to think of it in those terms. Still, I’m not afraid of getting older. I know my body will break down as I age (it’s already starting – just slightly), but as long as my mind is good, as long as I can think and reflect, I welcome it.
My favorite fall album is Camper Van Beethoven’s “II & III.” Here is the first track from it, “Abundance”: