One Hundred Seasons
by Jessica Lohafer
You feel old? You should. God, look at you. You probably need to get your knees checked out.
No, seriously. I’m worried about your knees.
-Kristin Chick Emmet
It was Sunday night.
I found myself meandering the aisles of Fred Meyer, noticing all of the new paint samples, the frames. I picked out some screws, anxious to finish my shelving project. I was feeling so free that I even found myself a new filing system; I had brought the measurements with me, to make sure it would fit in my recently organized desk drawer. Orange juice. Then I bought some orange juice. Somewhere between ensuring that my granola had enough fiber and finding a good basic pen (one that wouldn’t just bleed through everything! like I’m not writing on the other side of the page?), I realized something had gone terribly wrong.
It didn’t help that I was about to turn twenty-five, or that my father had informed me an hour earlier that no, he and my mom “did not think of me as a kid anymore.” Hadn’t I graduated from college? How long had I been supporting myself? Who filed my taxes? Yes. Seven years. Me. I was only one small step away from having an IRA. I was terrified.
When I’m working at Starbucks, I often tell my customers, “Today’s a great day. I couldn’t complain. Well, I could, but that wouldn’t really change anything.” So I’m a year older, so what? Complaining about it sure isn’t going to give me an extra 365 days to work with. And as I’ve struggled with this quarter of a century life crisis, the response I typically get is that I’m too young to be worried, that if I feel old, there’s someone else who feels infinitely older. I just couldn’t reason out why this particular life marker was giving me so much trouble. Then I realized, for the first time in my life, people have begun to assume I’m an adult. It doesn’t matter how much Ke$ha I listen to, how many nights go by without nearly enough sleep, or how many times I eat ice cream for breakfast, for some reason this past birthday has moved me into a whole different set of age related expectations. Or, at least, it seems that way.
Last month, my mother started her own promotions company. She had paid her dues in the world of corporate misery for long enough, and now she’s branching into territory that is simultaneously exciting and fairly uncertain. I’m sure plenty of people would have stayed with the sure thing, continued to work themselves into a dismal existence, counting on their retirement plans to be enough to justify all the wasted years. But my mom took a risk. I know she’ll be wildly successful, because she always is, but I appreciate that she doesn’t sit idly by and accept the future that many people her age (29, in case you were wondering) wouldn’t think to question. I may have spent the last twenty-five years of my life working towards set goals, remaining incredibly disciplined and wondering what it would be like to be an adult. Maybe I’ll spend the next twenty-five pursuing every whim and desire of my heart.
I think to be an adult is to be dynamic. To be willing to change. If this is the case, Annie Lohafer, you’re doing a great job. Maybe the overachiever in me gets to have a reverse childhood, an adulthood that isn’t so obsessed with perfection and measurable success. Or, maybe I’ll get into grad school and become obsessed with perfection and measurable success. Probably a little of both. Regardless, I find myself at my desk, more excited about everything than ever before.
And my knees, though a bit sore from my run this morning, well, they’ve never felt better.