Tuesday, April 7, 2015

What's My Age Again?

Old Man Take A Look At (Your) Life.......

My apologies for the delay on this blog post.  I was out of the office for a few days a couple of weeks ago and have been trying to get caught up.  You know, clearing out the email inbox, responding to messages, changing diapers - pretty standard stuff.  Excuses, I know, but I took a five-day - yes, five day - kid and spouse-free vacation.  Something relatively unheard of for a parent with three kids under five, except if they are probably traveling for work, which I most certainly was not.  My wife; who, I should point out, is amazing, reluctantly (and rightfully so), granted me five days for a ski-trip and related shenanigans with some college buddies.  She said I deserved it, and seeing as she will be returning to work full-time in a few weeks, after exhausting all of her own vacation (and sick) time to support us financially during maternity leave, this was likely my only (and probably last for the foreseeable future) opportunity to do anything of the sort.  Yeah, she's f#&$ing amazing.

She also allowed me to go over my birthday weekend, which was another sign of true selflessness.  When you get married and have kids, your birthdays become a mix of exciting and great, but relatively tame adventures with the family, or surprise birthday parties orchestrated by your spouse - usually just for the big ones.  I had a big one two years ago, with a cleverly orchestrated surprise party, so this year was "just another birthday".  The guys I went with didn't even realize it was my birthday until I started receiving an excessive amount of phone calls and text messages on that particular Saturday morning.  The weekend proposed happened work out the best for all involved with the trip, so ultimately we decided on that particular weekend.  Jess told me to go and have fun, but not too much fun, and come back in one piece.  Isla said they'd save a piece of cake for me.

Having worked in higher ed for a number of years, I often commented that when I got together with my college buddies, I never felt that far removed from college.  It was when I interacted with the current college students that I recognized that there was a decade difference between myself and them.  I remember having a lunch conversation with a student that worked in our office, after I had seen him out running the day prior in a cut-off t-shirt and baggy gym shorts, that I started to understand the various indicators that clued me into the fact that I was now old.

1. I gradually purged every sleeveless shirt from my wardrobe, and actually started working out in long-sleeves shorts in effort to get a better sweat in and try to combat my slowing metabolism.  This increase in sleeve length directly coincided with a decrease in shorts length, as my over-sized, baggy shorts (like the student was wearing) shrunk to a more "running suitable" 5-inch inseam.  

2. I started to listen to "public news radio" all the time.  When I'd find myself in the car listening to MPR, I'd often laugh at myself.  "What are you doing?  You're not 60!"  I'd rhetorically scoff as I'd scan the airwaves for some Top 40 hits.  Inevitably though, the dial would always somehow find it's way back to "A Prairie Home Companion".  I knew it was bad when I started recognizing the voices of the various reporters before they would even say their name.

3. More and more I recognized how good it felt to wake-up on a weekend after a full night of sleep (8 or more hours) at a respectable time (like 8am) and have this thing called an "entire morning" to be productive.  Of course, having three kids, I haven't had a full nights sleep in the last four years.  But someday it will hopefully return, and then we'll get back to having those "nice little Saturdays."  Head to The Home Depot, maybe Bed Bath & Beyond (if we have enough time).

4. I started to see the relative hypocrisy in my words and actions toward the "kids these days".  This was especially apparent when I worked at a college and would have to reprimand students for behavior I may have displayed myself when I was their age.  At first, I had a tendency to let things slide.  I was their age once, what was the big deal?  But then I realized that if someone didn't assume the role of  "the man", these punk kids would sail through live without having any authority to actually challenge.  Someone had to "hate the fun" from time to time, and I was just doing my civic duty.

5.  I've developed a better ability to know when I've had enough, most notably in reference to intoxicating beverages.  Recognition of intoxication follows three paradigms:
1. Not understanding that there is a line of intoxication you should avoid crossing.
2. Understanding that there is a line you should avoid crossing, but still having a tendency to cross that line - either by tiptoeing across ever so slightly or pole vaulting yourself across.
3. Understanding that there is a line and becoming pretty adept at remaining on the "head-not-in toilet" side of said line.

As I've aged, I've found myself more often in the third paradigm, and better know when call it quits.  Please note though that we all have our fleeting moments, and I've had a few since I've entered "older-land".  My favorite was probably a few years ago at a good friends going away party.  I commented to the only other dad of the group that we would likely be the "responsible drunks" of the bunch.  I think the opposite turned out to be true, and one of us actually needed to take a "sick day" on Monday to continue to recover following a Saturday fiesta (I'll let you guess which one).      

6. I've started to hurt in places originally unknown on my body for inexplicable reasons.  Just a few short years ago I gave no thought to bodily aches and pains, because I seldom had any or I could easily explain them (too much vodka led to too much dancing, etc.).  Not the case now.  The mere act of getting out of bed seems to carry the risk of herniating a disc or tearing an ACL.  Better get signed up for those low-impact water aerobics.

With this trip I think I realized that even when I get together with my college friends, I still feel old.  We orchestrated a similar adventure seven years prior, and this particular one was markedly different.  We were definitely all ready to cut loose (for our own individual reasons), but the looseness of our cutting definitely wasn't as loose this time around.  Sure our supplies from the grocery store included frozen pizzas and a cube of Miller Lite.  But it also included "cage-free" eggs, organic bacon, Clif Bars, and pine nuts.  The frozen pizzas actually went uneaten, and despite only buy one cube, there were a few Miller Lites left when every was said and done.  We popped NSAIDs preemptively in anticipation of aching muscles, as opposed to re-actively from splitting hangover headaches.  I'm pretty certain we turned in before midnight every night, which resulted in no ill-advised (but tasty) early morning Mexican food, nor us playing a role in any major retail stores not opening at the appropriate times the following morning.  We actually utilized the shower facilities at our accommodations, something unfathomable seven years ago.    

Our own slope antics also seemed to follow a similar suit.  Our eagerness to "shred the gnar" (mountain lingo) from first chair to last chair was drastically decreased, despite the fact that each morning we were up with more than enough time to make first chair.  We had morning phone call/Skype check-ins with spouses and kids that needed to be taken care of, and you can't rush that organic bacon.  One of our compatriots actually defined his approach to skiing one day as "risk averse".  Words that likely would never have entered our lexicon on previous trips when we were shotgunning beers at the top of the mountain before hurtling ourselves off 20 foot kickers (okay, bit of an exaggeration).  We steered clear of the double-blacks (actually the single blacks too) and the trees, and this time (most) all of us even wore helmets.  The only time we went off piste was to the Bavarian bar located 50 feet from the backside lift for large German beers, and in my case, a crisp, refreshing glass of Riesling.

They often say "you are only as old as you feel", and I've started to wonder if you hit a point where you start to feel as old as you actually are.  At the close of our trip, some of us found ourselves at a bar enjoying a few cocktails; Manhattans of course (since we're so Don Draper).  At some point the conversation actually turned into a observation about how much gray permeates my facial hair after a few days of not shaving.  This morphed into a discussion on the genetics male-patterned baldness, and whether or not there is scientific proof that it follows the maternal side of lineage.  One in our group, who currently sports a ponytail that pushed forward makes him very reminiscent of Kurt Cobain, was not completely sold on the findings.  It was a riveting conversation.

The irony was not lost on me when Jay-Z's "Young Forever" kicked off my playlist as we took our first lift up the mountain.  As much as we'd all probably like to "live life like a video" the way Mr. Carter describes, where among other things "you never get old".  Unfortunately we all know physiologically this is impossible.  You can't stop time, and as much as Rod Stewart, Bob Dylan, Jay-Z, and Revlon try to convince us otherwise we can't stay forever young, or even look like we are doing so.  The advice I've actually taken the HOVA's rework of the 1984 Alphaville classic comes from the second verse, when he calls us to; "fear not when; fear not why; fear not much while we're alive.  Life is for living not living uptight."  A call to live in the moment, which ultimately means embracing your inevitable aging, or maturity as I like to say.

When I got back from my vacation, everyone asked me if I had a good time.  And I did.  It was different than previous trips like it that I've been on, but it was great for its own reasons.  And one of those reasons was definitely the excitement of coming home, especially with our house being as robust as it now is.  It was great to get away, and I think it is important to take those breaks occasionally; from your kids, from your spouse, from the routine of your everyday life.  Because when you do, there is always that excitement of coming home.  As excited as I was to go, and I was really excited to go, I was just as excited to get back when the trip was over.  I knew that when I walked in the door, I'd have two little girls running excitedly at me with open arms, a loving wife ready to give me a welcome home kiss (even before I shaved), and a not-so-little baby boy who would likely spit-up all over me as soon as I picked him up (we think it's how he shows affection and excitement).  A king's welcome?  Absolutely.

Nothing like a refreshing glass of Riesling after a long day on the mountain.   

Contrast to 2008.


No comments:

Post a Comment