Notes From an Old Man: Second Childhood, Bah!

I remember as a kid hearing that getting old was like entering a second childhood. Well, I’m here at the ripe old age of 64 to tell you that’s not true; getting old is more like going through a second adolescence. My body is changing in unexpected ways: I have arthritis in my right index finger, me knees creak and crack; my blood has decided to store iron.

Like an adolescent, I think I know everything, except now in this second adolescence, I really do know everything—or at least a little. Here’s what I know:

It will get better.

If you find yourself going through hell, keep going; it’s a “passthrough” town.

He’s not going to change.

You can just say no.

As I did back then, I find myself imagining my future self—what will I look like—and my future. Back then I’d tried to visualize my collegiate life: Where would I go to college? What would I study? Would I make friends? Would I find a boyfriend. And my post-collegiate life: would I drive a BMW or a Porsche? Would I really live in a brick Tudor mansion with a circular driveway, high ceilings, and a Koi pond?

Now, I try to imagine my post-retirement life: Will we be able to afford the upkeep on our 1932 French Colonial that sometimes seems more Grey Gardens than Gatsby’s gilded mansion? Carefree friends have been replaced by stern, tough-talking doctors—a GP, a cardiologist, a hematologist/oncologist; I see them more often than I meet friends for dinner. I worry about who we can name as caretakers of our beloved dogs in our will.

Despite these very older adult concerns, like an adolescent, I’ve begun again to question everything. I stopped drinking after months of wondering why I was drinking. What started out as wine with dinner to unwind after work and share news of our day and make time for each other—what started out as a daily celebration simply became habit. Did a quick dinner of sausage and chips really require a bottle of wine? Then there came the before dinner cocktail, or two…and a nightcap before bed.

After nearly three weeks of sobriety, I feel better. I don’t fall asleep as instantly as I once did. Sleep takes longer to find me, but I’ve started reading in bed again—something I used to do to relax and aide sleep. It takes longer to fall sleep, but I wake up rested, refreshed. My blood pressure has fallen into the low normal range. I feel lighter. Pants that were once snug are falling off my hips.

Caffeine-free, alcohol-free, I walk around (more slowly that I used to) cocky in the knowledge that I am living healthier, but a nagging suspicion, leaves me wondering if I’m really happier and healthier, or if I am in fact:

a) a Mormon

b) dead.

That suspicion aside, I am mostly proud that I can still question everything. And that I can still change.

Photo by Amy-Leigh Barnard on Unsplash


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