Last night I went with my wife to our 25th high school reunion. The last reunion we were at was the 5th year reunion, so it was 20 years since. I was definitely anxious, because reunions tend to be about finding out how each of us has fared in life versus our high school peers. I guess I had been very ambitious 20 years ago and now felt somewhat inadequate to poke in my face no closer to my ambitions as I was some 20 years ago. But I have to say that feeling of inadequacy didn’t factor at all. Everyone seemed fairly easy going and comfortable in their lives. No one was their to impress.
The biggest thing that threw me was how much older everyone appeared. With 20 years of aging everyone really looked like they were in their 40s to 50s. I seemed to hardly recognize more than half the people there. It was surreal standing in conversations with grown women and men. I don’t mean mere adults as you would consider someone in their 20’s or 30’s but genuinely gracefully aged people with thinning, greying hair, and noticeable wrinkles. I think I dissociated as someone was talking to me and I found a little voice talking inside saying “why the heck am I talking to this old person?” I mean I feel like I’m talking to my parents. But in the back of my mind I know that these “old people” are my age. They were kids as I was a kid. I just couldn’t piece together “people that look and sound like my parents” with “people that are teenagers in high school” I then went into the restroom and when I looked into the mirror I heard that same voice go “who is that old man?”
Oh my God, I’m an old man! Look at the wrinkles in the forehead, the creases around the eyes, that aged skin complexion. I had disheveled thinning hair. And to top it all off it seemed my face looked fatter and wider than it did a couple of days ago. I know I couldn’t have gained that much weight in 2 days!
I realized that I had experienced some kind of reality shock. When I saw the youth of my high school person juxtaposed against middle-aged men and women it’s like the youth in me left. There is still a little boy but buried and scared inside a much older stranger body. I am not a young man anymore. Long gone are the days when I get carded when purchasing alcohol. Long gone are the days when people say “I look young”.
It’s just wierd why I never perceived myself as this old until last night. Now I’m feeling like I’m living in a strange body that has met many other strange people who where once supposedly people I knew in high school. Maybe it will wear off and I’ll grow back young again. Or at least my shattered reality will piece together and I’ll be back together in acceptance of who I am in the present.
Just another Tired Middle Aged Man.