If you didn’t know what age you are, what age would you think you are? It’s a question I can’t answer myself. In my head I’m around late twenties. Emotionally I’m not sure if I’m three or a doting geriatric. Intellectually I’m stuck: on the one hand I’m a grown up and have an M.A., so I could pick out a mature age for that one, but on a practical level I find myself asking my kids to help me with simple maths.
As for the physical part of it, I look at myself in the mirror and think, ‘wow, not bad, I still look twenty.’ The problem is though, that I don’t, and not even the mirror thinks that I’m the fairest of them all. But to hell with wrinkles and sagging boobs and surplus weight, I still just see me, and I just am. So let others put me at 30 or 40 or 50 or more, I see the same face every day, and I’m fine with it.
The one thing that really gets to me though, is the issue around date of birth. Once I hit my mid forties I decided that I’d have to just give up age, because whenever I assessed my lifestyle with regard to my age, it just didn’t seem right. I mean, would you really expect to see a woman hitting her late forties climb out of a tent at the electric picnic? Or should a woman of my age really select Converse runners as her preferred choice of footwear?
I went through a stage where I decided to act my age and not my shoe size (which is a frisky 39 if you’re a member of the European Union). So I bought some drab grey pants, started watching the soaps and exchanged recipes with people around my own age.
Then I got the blues. I realised I was in my mid forties and decided that I may as well give up thinking that I’ll ever achieve any of my dreams now that life has passed me by. I questioned my sanity for preferring Lady GaGa to Bob Dylan and quit my diet, because what did it matter anyway, now that I’ll always look like an aul wan no matter how fat or thin I am. I bought sensible shoes and felt that silly hats were not for my generation. I planned taking up golf, but didn’t go that far as I still had an active sex life. I did still manage to became dowdy and uninteresting though.
Then a great thing happened. I was another year older and I was pure fed up with it. So I decided to give up age. The first thing I decided not to be was a pillar of society. I bought a new silly hat and routed out the old runners. I packed in my day job because I decided it’s a much better idea to finish my novel than to work at something that doesn’t light my fire ( which probably puts me somewhere between 17 and 23 if I’m to go back to that ‘how old are you?’ question.)
Of course it’s difficult to give up age. Most days I feel some age or other, but it’s always a different one, so luckily, if I’m pushing 70 on a Monday, I might just be 20 by Wednesday.
I’m not sure what age I am today. I’m heading off to
to read one poem at the launch of an anthology in some bar, and considering that I’m skint and the whole outing will cost me about 150 quid if I’m to pay for travel and a room somewhere. So that kind of behaviour would probably make me a young 30 year old travelling minstrel. Thing is though, I didn’t sleep very well last night and I feel exhausted. I need my 7 hours and I didn’t get them. My bad hip isn’t liking this wet weather and the doctor reckons its arthritis. Dublin
So it’s going to be a long evening. My heart is in it but the bones are creaking. It must be my age.