My mom has this theory.
At some point in your life, she says, you stop aging in your head. Your body keeps right on marching on, getting older and greyer and so on, but in your head you’re always about the same age. This is why you look in the mirror and get that initial shock before you figure out that the reflection really is you.
You can tell when you reach that moment even without a mirror, because it’s the point where you stop knowing how old you are and start having to do the math. “How old am I? Well, let’s see, I was born in … and this year is … and I haven’t had my birthday yet (have I?) so subtract one and I get … really? I’m that old? I don’t feel that old.”
When you’re young, you know how old you are. You know with every fiber of your being how old you are, and when you’re really young you know to the half-year. But over the years you lose that connection. For a while you kind of know – it’s not something that sits at the top of your mind, but it’s right there for the asking.
And then you lose it and have to start doing the math.
This is why you see people in their forties and fifties doing things that, really, they ought to leave to people in their twenties. You can’t eat that way anymore, trust me. And similarly, when you’re in your thirties you need to stop thinking you’re in your teens because you can’t drink that way either.
Me? In my head I’m 26. My body may be … what? … carry the one, still not my birthday … and I get … huh, considerably more than 26. But that was the last time I actually knew how old I was without having to think about it.
Today is my mom’s birthday. It’s one of the big ones, with a zero at the end of it, but in her head I’m sure she’s not nearly that old.
Happy Birthday, Mom.