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Then & Now

Aging is a subtle process. One day you are too big to fit into your Sit and Spin.Then, you go from riding a bike to driving a car. Before you know it, you find yourself peering through bifocals as you search for the gray hairs that seem to sprout overnight. I realize that I’m maturing, but last week, when Oregano and I went to a concert at the PNC Bank Arts Center, I realized just how old we’ve become. We’ve been attending concerts at this open air venue since we were in high school, but 10 years ago we saw REO Speedwagon and we haven’t been back. The shocking abundance of mullets at that concert must have scared us off. It was John Mayer who enticed us back this time. As we drove home from the concert with our ears still ringing, I realized there are a lot of differences between how we attended concerts then and now.

Then

We would drive down early and tailgate for hours before the concert. We’d sit in the parking lot languidly eating sub sandwiches listening to tapes (that’s right, tapes) of the music we’d soon be hearing live.

Now

We race home from work then fight rush hour traffic to get to the concert. The additional time sitting in the car gives us the perfect opportunity to scarf down protein bars for dinner.

Then

When we parked in the distant overflow lots, we would cram ourselves, our blankets and our lawn chairs onto the shuttle bus that took us the one mile to the front gates.

Now

Thanks to the traffic we were stuck in, we arrive late which means we park even farther away. Instead of squeezing into a shuttle bus full of people and lawn chairs, we choose to walk the mile to our seats because it is good exercise.

Then

My idea of protection was pepper spray.

Now

My idea of protection is bug spray.

Then

We would eagerly walk up to the vendors selling t-shirts. We’d plunk down our money to buy an overpriced shirt as a souvenir from the show.

Now

I walked up to the vendors, looked at their merchandise and thought, “Oooo, they have ear plugs. That might be a good idea.”

Then

Due to our limited income, we bought tickets for the lawn.  We schlepped our blankets and watched the tiny dot on the horizon sing as we danced in the grass. After college, when we started earning salaries, we still sat on the lawn because it was more fun. Sure, we could be rained on, but that’s what ponchos and garbage bags are for.

Now

After watching several arguments break out on the lawn because late comers put tall chairs in front of people sitting on blankets, we decided we were finally old enough to pay for the permanent seats under the roof.

Then

It was all about the free parking no matter where it was.

Now

As we hiked the mile from our car to our seats, we saw signs for VIP parking. This extra $20 gets you into one of the close parking lots. We looked at each other and said, “We’re old enough to pay for that.” We just have to hope one of us remembers that it’s available when we go again in 10 years.

42nd Street

Each of us handles our advancing age in our own way. Some people reflect on their lives and make a bucket list of things they have yet to accomplish. Other people can’t tolerate the changes they see in the mirror. They fight the aging process tooth and nail by enlisting every tool available in medical science. Still others acquiesce to the endless march of time as part of life by gracefully acknowledging each passing year with its accompanying wrinkles, declining vision and deteriorating bodily functions. Flab appears on what was once a young, nimble body. Bending over to pick something up often triggers a series of snapping, crackling and popping sounds that rival a fresh bowl of Rice Krispies.

Fighting aging is a losing battle, so I don’t waste my time worrying about it. It’s going to happen to those of us lucky enough to have the opportunity to grow old. Since wrinkles are an inevitable part of the aging process, I choose to believe that any wrinkles I have acquired have come from a lifetime of laughing and smiling. If I’m going to have them anyway, I’d prefer that mine come from laughing rather than frowning. I also choose to believe that any weight I gain helps to pop out some of those wrinkles from the inside like pushing out the dents on a car. Even though I’ve made my peace with getting older, I’d still like to look as young as I can for as long as possible, but a little affirmation goes a long way.

Several mornings a week I walk to work past a school with a crossing guard. Each time I pass the crossing guard, I say good morning to her and we chat about the weather. I have been doing this for 3 years. This morning, as I began to cross the street, I looked both ways, saw a car two blocks away and stepped off the curb. Before my foot could hit the asphalt, the crossing guard yelled at me, “There’s a car. Stay on the sidewalk until I tell you it is safe to cross the street!”

I was startled by the tone she used with me, but stepped back thinking she had seen something I hadn’t seen like the car speeding up or someone barreling around the corner. Clearly, she takes her job seriously. I stood there waiting for a few minutes as the car made its leisurely journey down the two blocks before passing by as I stood safely on the curb. Once the car had turned the corner, the crossing guard signaled for me to cross. As I began to approach her side of the street, she was muttering about how fast people drive and how students don’t follow her instructions. She chastised me for not waiting for her to give me permission to cross the street. It was only when I was within a few feet of her that she realized I am an adult and apologized for scolding me. She is a doddering old woman who probably needs glasses, but I choose to believe that it is my youthful appearance and exuberant walk, not my diminutive stature that caused the crossing guard’s confusion. Being mistaken for a twelve-year-old is not a bad way to start the day when it is your 42nd birthday.

 

**A big thank you to Chatty Cathie of Chatty Cathie’s Endless Chatter for sending some blog love my way with the Liebster Blog Award! Stop by and have a chat with Cathy. You won’t be disappointed. **

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