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Suspended in Time

Submitted by Leah Marie on August 3, 2010 – 1:25 pmComments

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This past week I was visiting my most favorite cousin, who is exactly to the hour two years younger than me.  I’ve never really considered our age difference a major player in our relationship, but in retrospect I think thats because I was always comfortable being the older one.  I was the one corrupting her with Dirty Dancing and glitter make-up, acting like I knew all and she would look up to me and want to be just like me but she never could because I was always taller, faster, older.  Fastforward fifteen years, and my how the tables have turned.

In typical fashion symptomatic of eldest child syndrome, I have thought of her life only as it pertains to mine.  My cousin lives in Sevilla, Spain.  She has a (significantly older) boyfriend, a great teaching job, and life goals; various notes and diaries and postcards filled with voracious lists of desires, hopes and dreams.  She is beautiful and smart and loving and real, and I would do well to emulate even a token of her life direction.  My height and glitter eye shadow have apparently failed me in this department.  Immediately, I begin to berrate myself with stupid rhetorical questions that are so latent with cliches of feeling older I am almost embarrassed to write them.  Did I plateau two years ago when I went to live in eastern Europe on a whim and then immediately moved to New York to work in fashion?  Will I ever do anything exciting (re: stupid) again?  Should I attempt to date someone significantly older than me? Would that give my life some purpose?  I know, maybe I’ll learn French!

I realized at some point in Spain, while sipping my cafe, chain smoking, and “reading” Vogue Espana, that I have become suspended in time.  I have, by default, held onto the years in which I could count on being the older cousin, the one doing things, going places, telling funny stories about her exciting life.  Banking on my age has now made me harshly aware of it and I’ve spent too much time recounting silly stories of years past, laughing at them with enough over zealousness to elicit a mild smoker’s cough.  Suddenly, as I observe my cousin living every day anew, unable to manipulate her surroundings, I realize rather pathetically that I’m out of stories now.  I have grown apathetic and comfortable and nothing shocks me or thrills me or even makes me want it anymore.

Now I understand what it means to be old!  It has really nothing to do with your age and everything to do with your life lived.  Growing older is really about becoming suspended in time, unable to move along with the rest of the pack, stuck in what you know is your comfortable way and you can’t figure out how to change so you keep breathing watching everyone around you suck up the good air while you slowly suffocate.  Morbid, yes, but theirs nothing like a little reality based drama to motivate necessary change.  Every action we make in life is a conscious choice.  Fight suspension, keep changing, keep moving, keep living.  One day it will actually be appropriate to recount tales of youth and stupidity, but right now is the time to gather the material.  Viva la vida!

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  • Helenridsdale

    My god I know exactly what you mean. I have been grappling with these feelings for a couple of years and I'm only 24. Most of my friends at uni were younger than me - somehow the amount of cool people in my year and above was limited in comparison. I was always the crazy one with the travelling stories and the wild parties... until everyone else started doing it all too, and doing it better than me (or so I felt in my paranoid insecurity at the time). And yeah, I was out of stories. And I was out of energy as well, energy to keep doing the crazy things, just wanted some stability. I thought I was going mad, all these fears of decline. Did I peak at 20? Is that it, is it over now? I mean what the fuck, if I feel like this now, what am I going to be like at 30? Fortunately, after a year of relative stability I'm off to the other side of the world again, and even though I'm still trapped in the mundanity of work as I write, I'm counting down the days. And I already feel 10 times 'younger' again. Or whatever you want to call it.

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