Sunday, June 7, 2009

Chronicles of aging

It's not a big deal or anything but I turned 31 on May 28. I mention my birthday belatedly not because I need some attention or a cake; but because I've become more aware of my advancing age in recent days.

A brief, not-so connected list of 31 random ephiphanies and thoughts and observations:

1. On my parents' last evening in town last week, we had a brief debate about whether or not it made sense for them to make the grueling 14-hour drive back to Houston in a single day. I told my father I didn't think it was a wise move. He responded that, at my age, he could have made a 20-hour road trip and then partied for the next four hours when he got there. "At 31?," I asked him. He was quieted for a second. "Oh," he said.

2. I was born 11 days after my father turned 31.

3. It really struck me that my teenage years and the 20s had already passed me by. Turning 31 resonated within me much more deeply than my 30th birthday. Next winter, it'll be 10 years since I graduated from college. How did all that happen?

4. I'm about five pounds heavier than I was during my days as a college football player. But shedding pounds is harder than ever before. Once upon a time, if needed, I could probably drop 10 pounds in a couple weeks. Now it takes me about two months.

5. I've also lost some flexibility, I can barely grab the rim on a 10-foot hoop (something I did with ease, even dunking a couple times in college) and I'm probably as slow as I've ever been. I calibrate my "true age" mostly on how I feel physically. More than ever before, I feel less like the athlete that I once was. It's very humbling. And sobering.

6. On a somewhat related note, I'll probably never again take off my shirt at a party. No matter how ripped I get. This is really sad. But the First Lady is grateful.

7. During a conversation with an old friend last week, we realized that we hadn't seen each other in six years. When I was a groomsman in his wedding. Now he has two kids that I've never seen or met. How does something like that happen?

8. I have at least five close friends who have two kids or have a second on the way. When did they get old enough to raise some kids?

9. Most of the top musical groups from my childhood are referred to as "old school." I find myself complaining a lot about the quality of current popular music. If that's not old, I don't know what is. In 30 more years, I might finally become as embittered about the changes in pop culture as Stanley Crouch. Or at least Bill Cosby.

10. More than ever before, I realize that my windows of opportunity are getting smaller. Contrary to what I was told as a kid, I can't do whatever I want if I put my mind to it. I'm very conscious of my limitations and my failings. I'm running out of time to accomplish all the things I wanted when I graduated from college. In fact, I don't even have the same goals that I did then.

11. I'm also cool with a lot of this. I think it was Ralph Wiley who once wrote, "too much ambition is unbecoming for a man of a certain age." I have ambitions ... but they're focused a little more narrowly. I still want to make a difference. And I think I can. But it's not going to happen in the way I once thought it would.

12. I'm watching more HGTV than ever before, especially "House Hunters" and "Property Virgins." I spend a lot of time reading about home ownership and real estate. Who am I?

13. I say I'll be brief, then I continue rambling ...

14. I honestly have lost all urge to smoke the herb. I'm too old for that, there's too much at stake. I can't afford that sort of silliness.

15. But I have some very solid arguments for the legalization of marijuana. Several years of reading through police reports and seeing the toll enforcement takes on our communities will do that.

16. I'm finally ready to accept that I'm graying a little. Even in my facial hair. But my hairline has yet to retreat.

17. Someone told me the other day, referring to their college-age child, "but I'll bet you're much older than my son." Damn.

18. I'm older than almost all of the athletes that I watch on TV. And all of the sports stars I rooted for as a child are well into retirement: Hakeem, Warren Moon, Gary Payton, Deion Sanders.

19. High school kids address me as "sir." I appreciate the manners but, wow. Me? A "sir"?

20. At some point, I've come to accept that I'm not going to ever know it or learn it all. This is sad to me. I'd like to think of myself as a prodigious reader. But the sad fact is that I'm going to die without knowing everything that I want to know.

21. I'm probably not going to see or visit all the places that I want to either. (Where on earth would I get all those vacation days?) I'm going to have to make some hard choices.

22. No, I'm not dying. Just a little ponderous today, I guess.

23. Now, more than ever, I regret being a mediocre student in college. People who expected better told me the day would come. Well, now it's here.

24. I share ownership of a dog. A Jack Russell-rat terrier named Lola Falana. And I take her out for walks on a pink leash. WTF?

25. I also dutifully go to dog obedience classes on Saturdays. Two more classes to go.

26. If possible, I now try to avoid large groups of teenagers. No, I'm not scared. They just annoy me and I don't like all that noise.

27. I still worry about whether or not I'm cool. But not nearly as much.

28. At some point, I just stopped giving a shit about MTV or BET. I couldn't tell you much of anything about their programs. VH-1 is a little more my speed.

29. Honestly, my slang could use an update. But does that happen organically or what? I don't remember. And you'll never hear me talk about my swag.

30. I miss my parents. Not like when I was in college, and it was more akin to homesickness. I don't really want to live in Houston again. But I miss being around them. I have a lot more to learn about them and from them.

31. I'm set to jump the broom. Against all conventional wisdom, the First Lady is casting her lot with a dude who probably will never make much money or rise to much celebrity. But nobody will have more love.

If you made it this far, this is the part where I thank all of my readers for making this last year as interesting as any that I can remember. 30 was a great year: I got settled into my new city, I started this blog, I came up with a couple of alternative career plans, my choice for president actually won, I spent lots of time on the beach, I got engaged and I've created an extraordinary web of friends and acquaintances through this little endeavor I call False Hustle. Thanks for making this year so rewarding.

And let's hope the next year is better for all of us.


avery said...

eggg-cellent(c) montgomery burns.

Bougie Applebum said...

*awww shucks* You know in my old age I get all sentimental. Great post. You've captured aging perfectly. lol. Wild. I guess we're all thinking about aging. I've been asking the same question for a few weeks - "Exactly when did I become a grown up?" When did I automatically start the grownup process such as paying bills. There was a time I'd easily call in as opposed to trek into the office. And now I go to bed at a decent hour - WTF?

I think I officially crossed over at 30. I can't even think about pulling an all nighter without getting tired. :-) And my slang could use an update. I'm getting a little tired of saying "I'm too legit to quit". :-)

KST said...

Great post! Funny how your perspective on life changes as you grow older. Twenty-five was the age I set as the year all of my goals would be accomplished. LOL! Most of them I have achieved, but at 36 the pressure is ON.

Isn't it kinda cool to be called "sir" though?

I have never met you, but your joy over your engagement is very touching. Best Wishes!

Jack T. said...

I'm a couple of years behind you, BI, but I'm feelin' you on this one. At least you have the First Lady - some of us don't have that much. I am SO WITH YOU on the music though. I'm not where TNC is yet, but I'm headed there. I'm not sure I understand hip-hop anymore. The last record I got into was The Cool Kids, a group so shamelessly 1988 that I'm not sure they should count as an attempt to understand what's going on today.

P.S. If you're gonna slap someone a la Stanley Crouch, get pictures.

Anonymous said...

great post! and ditto on no. 26. i gravitate directly away from large groups of people who arent old enough to both drive and vote.

blackink said...

@Ave: Thanks, fam.

@Bougie: People don't say "too legit to quit" anymore? Crap.

@KST: I could really live without people calling me "sir" in that context. I appreciate the courtesy. But I'm no one's daddy.

@Jack: Eh, I didn't get hold of the First Lady until I was, uh, 28. And I certainly wasn't planning on being in a relationship when it all went down. It just sorta happened.

But I'd feel bad slapping Stanley Crouch because of the age and size advantages. Maybe John McWhorter or Shelby Steele would make a better stand-in?

@Cami: Lol. Thanks. And that's a good rule of thumb. I also tell them to stay off my lawn.

KST said...

blackink: Heehee!

First Lady said...

You warmed my heart.

And I'm not worried about the money and you shouldn't be either. I know that our investment in each other will bring us returns that money can't measure.

blackink said...

Damn skippy. That's my baby.

Put your finger in the air since you Da One, girl.

Zen said...

Is 31 over the Hill? Yes, I read each and everyone. You're one sad dawg but I got nothing but love for you.