Over the weekend I spent time in Myrtle Beach with two of my oldest, dearest friends and their children. We drank frozen cocktails by the pool and enjoyed each other's company after not having it for a few years - that is, until this obnoxious deejay started playing club music and telling everyone to get up and dance. I happened to raise myself from my beach chair at that moment to collect napkins from the pool bar after Haylee, their almost-six-year-old, spilled strawberry drink everywhere.
"Are you about to get out there and dance?" teased my friend when he saw me standing up.
"No," I replied, with more than a gentle curl of my lip.
"Are you old now?" he asked.
"Yes," I said, without missing a beat.
Then, yesterday I was wasting time on the Internet when I saw that NPR wanted to know "how readers' tastes in music had changed since they aged." Had they simply turned the volume knob, or something more drastic, like changing from psychedelic rock to Kenny G? Now, I know I'm not quite old enough (I don't think) to have changed my taste in tunes yet and I know NPR wasn't talking to my age group. But it's still interesting, especially because my own mother still listens to all the ribcage-rattling rock n roll she can -- and brags her taste hasn't changed at all. Still, the fact that she's noted herself how her taste hasn't changed means most people in her age group do tone it down.
What are the expectations when it comes to adult behavior? I ask myself this quite a bit. I don't have a husband (or even a boyfriend or even a plus-one at the moment) nor do I have children, but i still suspect that people are expected to act a certain way and hold certain tastes after ...30? Would Kevin and Natalie have wrinkled their brows at me if I had ordered a shot of liquor in midday, jumped up on my lounge chair and shaken my ass like I was 19 years old? Probably.
Some changes, you aren't even conscious of. For example, I hated being around small children when I was 18, 19 years old. An old friend I had in college was the mother of a toddler at the time and I was a notoriously terrible, impatient babysitter. Nowadays, I love my friends' children, and they love me back. Is this a result of age? What if I still hated children -- would that be a sign I wasn't maturing properly?
Normally, when I write a blog post, I have some neat little way to tie it up at the end. But this question hasn't been fully answered for me. I wrote in my journal (the private one, on paper) yesterday that "as I get older, my place in the world seems to get smaller and triumphs seem to get smaller because I'm pickier about them."
Perhaps this process of "weeding the garden" to create the adult life we personally want is a lengthier process than I imagined. So far, I know that I won't be making a scene in my swimsuit by the pool. But as for loving a good guitar riff, I'll take my mother's cue and blare it in my car. I'm working on a lot of the other stuff, but that's a good start, right?