Girl: I love this color scheme.
Me: Yeah, it’s very hipster.
Girl: Wow. You’re the first not-young person I’ve ever met to use the term hipster.
I stood quietly for a moment while my brain tried to process what she had said. What the hell just happened here? I thought to myself. Did she just call me old?
She stood there and smiled at me, eyes bright over an eagerly excited expression. Like she had just unearthed a billion-year-old fossil, who might be slightly familiar with the band One Direction. Her eyes sparkled.
Me: Well, back in my day, they were called skaters.
Girl: The shoes?
Girl: So cool you know that.
I never thought this would happen to me.
I’m still living in a world where I think 1990 was only ten years ago, and Madonna can’t be older than 32. But, here I am, noticing how the tendons in my hands are slowly rising to the surface of skin that stretches much further than in previous years. Rogue chin hairs have suddenly invaded my life. For every one chin hair I pluck, two more replace it. One day I’ll wake up and have to race my husband to the clippers in the morning just to keep my five o’clock shadow trim and tidy.
Kids also respond to me like I’m an actual adult. They listen to me at the playground when I tell them to stop doing things. At some point in the last decade, I became a figure that children automatically listen to simply because I “look” old enough. In addition, being called “ma’am” is becoming more frequent in my day-to-day encounters.
Being called ma’am is an unfortunate rite of passage that lets me know:
· I no longer look as young as I feel.
· I have no interest in mainstream music.
· Most twenty-somethings look like they were born three weeks ago.
· No one wears pants like that anymore.
· 100 percent of tweens I see today were still eggs in their mother’s ovaries when I graduated college.
Twenty was a time when I could lose weight by eating an entire pizza. Thirty is a time for my body to accumulate every calorie I consume and throw it onto areas of my body that never had fat before. Areas I didn’t even know I had, like that space between my armpit and my boob that I affectionately refer to as side bacon.
Exercise in my twenties was to socialize and be able to wear pretty little skirts the size of dishtowels that fluttered when I walked fast. These days my skirts are the size of bed sheets, and the only fluttering they do is when my kids rustle around under them because it’s their fort. Exercise is now a necessity. Not just to keep my belly flab from taking over and absorbing everything in its path like some low-budget horror film, but because I’m getting old. If I don’t stay limber, I’ll fossilize and probably break a hip while lifting a discarded piece of cat food off the floor.
It’s not just physiological changes. My entire lifestyle is getting old.
My evenings used to start at 8 p.m. These days going out is a lot of work, from finding a babysitter who is qualified to watch my kids to being home at a decent hour. These days, when I have the choice to head out for a night on the town, I opt out of those 8 p.m. meet up times at bars because they’re too loud, and I’m already in my pajamas.
I’m getting old and people know it.
But, in about 50 years, I won’t care about plucking my chin hairs anymore. I’ll be using the spaces under my tendons to hold things like coupons and my AARP card. I still won’t know who One Direction is, and my side bacon will likely be side ham at that point.
When I walk around the retirement community I live in—wearing my Chuck Taylors in all their gray and purple hipster glory—I’ll still be living in a world where I think 1990 was only ten years ago, and Madonna still won’t be older than 32.