About Time

As you get older, things tend toward slowness. You’re not inclined to move as fast or talk as fast or eat as fast or fuck as fast or whatever as fast. You want to savor the moment. You want to enjoy every flavor. You want to not stumble over yourself and faceplant in the middle of the snow-slicked running trail.[1] Slowing down is not such a bad deal. Sipping on single malt is far more enjoyable than shot-gunning a PBR. And given enough time, I’m sure almost anyone can have an orgasm.

The only thing that doesn’t slow down is time itself. You know, the Time that shuffled casually through your twenties and barely trickled through high school? The same Time that was regularly outpaced by stones when you were a kid? Remember when summers lasted for decades and school years could be measured in geologic periods? How any single class (not necessarily gym) taught by a gym teacher could stretch into millennia?

These days Time has trained up into a pretty fast pace. It only accelerates[2] with each passing year. 2009 feels like just last year. In ten years, I full expect 2014 to seem like last week.

When did this happen? I don’t know. Sometime around late 2006, maybe? It wasn’t a hard, fast line I crossed. Given the soggy circumstances of that particular summer, it’s far more likely I stumbled, tipsy, off the youth platform and found myself on the slightly faster, if shabbier, grown-up train. Day passed before I had a chance to get to know them. Then one day I  realized I was north of thirty-five and 2006 was something like five years ago. I would find myself saying things like: “Isn’t Margaret pregnant?” And my friends would roll their eyes and say: “Margaret’s kid is in the first grade. Are you high?”

Many of my close friends are younger than I am. Some of them are only just now nearing onset of adult time. I feel for them. I may have even tried to warn them about its encroachment. Trying to explain adult time preemptively is futile. Young people don’t want to know about it. [3].” The realization that life is really and truly, no joke, passing you by can be sobering at best.  It prompts panicked 4am variations on a theme of Fuck Me, I Don’t Have Any Savings. You find yourself fixated on many once dull topics (health insurance, retirement, equity, taxes, credit ratings, health). And lots of once enjoyable things (parties, drugs, random hook-ups, fame, uncomfortable shoes, ancient, poorly insulated apartments) start to feel significantly less awesome once lived in for a while.

For people able or inclined to follow the more traditional marriage/home-ownership/kids/job-with -advancement path, I imagine adult time creeps in between the other benchmarks. For those like me, who took a different road (by choice or necessity), it is more unsettling. Apart from a few wrinkles, a touch more humility and the fact that I’ve stopped apologizing for my guilty pleasures, I’m not so different from my younger self. I could be bound in a nutshell and count myself eternally twenty-nine were it not for all this damn adult time.

But chin up, kids. It’s not all bad. Adult time provokes focus and forces consideration of priorities. Did I really need to suffer needlessly for so long for failing to live up to someone else’s expectations? Do I really need to spend years working too hard to achieve something just for the sake of empty achievement? Do I really want to go back to graduate school to for a degree I don’t really care about to (maybe) get a job I don’t really want?  Do I really have to waste my nights failing to meet the beauty standards/romantic expectations of some guy I met on a dating site? Wouldn’t I rather keep in my occasionally lucrative and not-unsatisfying career path and spend any extra time and money on travel and dinners and music and people I love? Of course I would.

I was never going to get exactly everything I wanted. I think I always knew that. Adult time forced me to make peace with maybe not getting exactly anything I once thought I  wanted.  My grown-up life may not be glamorous,  but it’s happening and it’s sometimes pretty sweet and it’s real, which is more than I can say for all the other things that didn’t happen along the way.


[1]I’m fine, thanks.

[2] Unless I’m on the phone with tech support or sitting in a traffic jam. Maybe there’s something to that. You can have immortal life. But you have to spend it sitting dead still in a rush hour bottleneck while a mumbly dude who sounds about as miserable as you are repeatedly asks you if you’re sure you’ve reset the modem.

[3] I’m sure it sounds depressing in the same way that “Going out all the time will be less fun” sounds depressing when you’re twenty-five. Part of that is a communication breakdown. What you mean is: “It’s better to have a glass of wine and watch Netflix than go to the bar and deal with a bunch of shitty, entitled twenty-five-year-old hipsters acting exactly like I did when I was a shitty, entitled twenty-five-year-old hipster.” What they hear is: “Your nights will not longer teem with breathless, luminous possibility. You will sell out, settle, get boring and wear bad jeans.”

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