Age is such a flimsy thing. All our lives we just can’t wait to get older. We can’t wait until we ease into those teenager years, we can’t wait until we turn 13 so we can proudly call ourselves a “teen,” we can’t wait to get to 16 so we can wear real bras and get a driver’s license, we can’t wait to turn 18 so that we are technically an adult and can enjoy the benefits of credit card debt. By 21, at last, we can stop using those fake IDs! But after 21, then what? What happens at 25 or 30?
I just turned 30. 30! I like saying that to people because it sounds so weird coming out of my mouth. Also? I don’t think I seem like a 30-year-old person. I still get carded for alcohol at the grocery store or the bar. But the best test that I don’t really look my actual age is that on the campus where I work, everybody thinks I’m a freshman. I guess that’s fabulous because it means my $28 bottle of JoJoba and Ginseng Exfoliating Face Cleanser (with Microbeads) is working. But give me a break. I think I’m just a little bit more put together than those freshman hot messes. And yet, like clockwork, every time I step into the dining hall for lunch I give the cashier my ID, and whoever is there just can’t believe that I’m faculty and not a student. You know what they say—black don’t crack!
In our youth we spend so much time telling people that we’re older than we really are, we dress “up” to look more like adults, or to play the part I guess. We play “house” and use dolls that are “older” than we are. But then when we reach the age we’ve been pretending to be all this time we’re like, Oh, never mind. We start pulling back. I’m not trying to say something so trite as “age ain’t nothin’ but a number”; getting older is more like running a race and then getting close to the finish line and realizing that there’s a fire pit at the end of that bitch so you better start backing away, slowly, so you don’t fall into it and burn the hell up.
There are certain perks to being older, sure. When I was younger my grandmother went to the casino a lot, but I was never allowed to go in because I wasn’t of age. The casino to me was this magical wonderland filled with boobies, cigarette smoke, and booze, and I couldn’t wait until I was 21 so that I could finally go in there and do whatever grown folks do. Plus, everything was all concealed so it was hard to peek inside to even see what was going on. I don’t really know what I expected on the other side, but I figured it must have been fabulous if I couldn’t get in.
Since I turned 21, nine years ago, I’ve been inside of a casino maybe five times tops, and I haven’t set foot in one in at least three years. I don’t drink more, even though I could drink as much as I want, at any moment. I don’t rent cars every weekend, even though I’m of age to rent a car every day. These are all nodal points we look forward to as we climb the age ceiling. But what does a 30-year-old get to do? There aren’t any special perks as far as I can tell, except that I do feel more energized and alive than I ever have before. Thirty isn’t old, 30 is just getting started. All the other years leading up to it are just practice, because being in your 30s is just like being in your 20s all over again except this time you’ll try not to make the same mistakes and you’ll finally be able to pay your bills on time.