With arms outstretched...

Compartment 14B

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Why yes, I am Methuselah.

2004-01-05 - 9:46 a.m.

I have spent much of my social life as the youngest member of the tribe. I was the precocious youngíun amongst my elders; sassy and too big for my britches. When I was at university hanginí with some guys discussing what theyíd be doing post-graduation, they turned to me and said, ďHey Shawna, whatíre you doing next year?Ē to which I replied, ďWell, if things go to plan, Iíll be entering second year.Ē

Blink, blink. ďYouíre Frosh*!?!Ē

Itís true I didnít have that shiny new Frosh patina that the others in my Frosh-only residence did. I canít really put my finger on what gave people that look. Maybe itís the freshly-scrubbed faces and recently-shorn hair. Maybe the look was a combination of slightly glazed-over, over-whelmed, yet gangly and eager and excited to be there, as they wandered, looking for their next class on a larger-than-the-red-brick-schoolhouse campus. Maybe it was the fact that many of them went slightly wild when they got there, out from under their motherís eagle-eyes and their dadís roofs, drinking themselves silly and staying up as late as they wanted, even on school nights. Whatever it was, I didnít have it. Maybe it was because Iíd had a lot of older friends. Maybe it was because the first time I lived on my own had been two years earlier when I was sixteen and I got it all out of my system then. Perhaps Iíd had the equivalent look then and it had worn off, much as it did by the end of the first semester for most of my dorm mates, who had mostly adopted the urbane, seen-it-all-and-it-didnít-kick-my-ass look of the veteran university student by Christmas or at the most by the end of first year.

Through highschool, through university, and even into real-life after that, I remained, often, the baby of the group. Then a funny thing happened. My friends started pairing off and settling down and I saw a lot of them less often. I continued going out but with the remaining single friends that were my own age. And then they too, paired off, settled down, drifted out of the city or out of the scene. So I continued to go out dancing, but the people I met, on average, became even younger, younger than I. Now, I love to dance. I could probably fill an entire entry with how much I love to dance, so I wonít go too into it here. The bar I found to dance at, which became almost my weekend second home, was full of a variety of people, of different ages (from much younger than me to much older) and backgrounds, who were unpretentious, tolerant, and didnít like mainstream dance schlock. It was at this bar that I met my match, literally. J says he noticed me the moment he walked into the bar.

J is three years younger than I and unlike me, he has always been one of the oldest members of his long-standing social group. You know what this means Ė now that weíre a unit and have started to integrate into each otherís groups of friends, I have become THE OLDEST member of his group. When they talk with dread of turning 30 and how old that will feel and how scared of it they are, they remember that Iím 31 and shoot me glances. They tease me, though not maliciously, about my age from time to time. And there are occasional other reminders about the age gap which, though not significantly large in the grand scheme of life, is still a fact. At the wedding, when my friends were much more apt to mingle with people they hadnít met before, or seize the microphone to share stories during dinner, the photographer (who was an acquaintance of mine already) noted aloud that, ďYeah, Jís friends are younger than yours, arenít they?Ē by way of explaining the slight difference in the social style of the two groups.

You know something? I miss being the prodigy. I liked people marvelling at how young I was to be doing what I did, to have accomplished the things I had. While Iím used to people thinking Iím younger than I look (Iíve been genetically blessed in this respect) Iíve never spent a significant amount of time with people who make me actually feel old before. Itís not deliberate on their part; itís just, I guess, the slightly different way many of them seem to interact with the world that makes me aware of the fact that theyíre definitely younger than me. Ironically, the one who I notice it least with is actually the youngest of the bunch, who is also the one I interact with the most. Perhaps itís because she seems older than the others. Hm. Perhaps she seems older than the others because we have a lot in common and similar personalities? I wonder if Iíve been attributing the differences between me and the others to age when itís just that our worldviews are different and I donít have a lot in common with most of them? Look at that, an epiphany right here as Iím writing!

Well, at any rate, if I have to be older, perhaps I can shoot for being the wise one that offers guidance to those that have accumulated less experience in the areas I know something about. Maybe I should start calling them all GrasshoppahÖ

*Note: I donít know if American universities still use the word freshman to denote someone whoís in their first year, but in Canada, at my university at least, the term is the more gender-neutral Frosh. And itís used as both singular and plural; you can have one Frosh or a bunch of Frosh.

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