“It doesn’t look like they’re home,” I said to my husband, my hands cupped around my face pressed to the window.
We stood at the front door of my husband’s clients’ house. He’s a realtor, and people are almost as excited to show him as he is to see what they’ve changed or how they’ve decorated. Nobody can quite appreciate updates to your home like your realtor.
It was 1:58 pm and we were arriving for a 2:00 pm afternoon barbecue.
“Are you sure you got the time right?” I glanced over at him. He held one bucket of cookies in each hand, our contribution to the party.
“Yes. 2:00 pm, Saturday. That’s today,” he confirmed. “Let’s go around to the back yard. Maybe they can’t hear the doorbell.”
“Did you get an Evite? How do you know what time this event starts?” We came down the steps my husband zipped across the fresh-cut grass to the gate of their back yard. Usually I am in charge of social visits, but since it was his client, he was navigating this ship.
As my husband juggled the cookies at the gate to get a free hand, a car arrived and voices called out. We turned to see his clients pulling into their driveway.
“Who arrives late to their own party?” my husband teased the young couple. We abandoned the gate and returned to the front of the house the as they parked. They expected to return earlier from picking up the catered food. Traffic on a Saturday afternoon! We helped them carry the food into the house and helped set up the final touches for the party.
Party guests arrived. The scent of the budding flowers carried on the light breeze while a lawnmower whirred in the distance. We marveled that this was the first time all of us had been outside enjoying the sunshine–a weather gem among finicky spring rainy days. The day was sunny and absolutely delightful.
We mingled between drink coolers, the snack display and the patio table, sipping icy drinks and sharing stories of how we knew the hosts and histories of moving to the area. There was chatter of colleges in common and shared employers.
One woman, in passing, mentioned that her husband had graduated from high school “way back in 1999.”
My husband and I felt the moment like the record scratch silence, where birds stop chirping and all people stop speaking.
Way back in 1999? We looked at each other, communicating the same thing: We are old. Possibly the oldest people at the party.
“So, if 1999 is ‘way back when,’ when did you graduate from high school?” I ventured, afraid of the answer.
“Oh, I graduated in 2002,” she replied with a giggle.
How to explain my feelings? Many people are younger than I am. Obviously. But the catch is I still feel young. My mind places me in my late-twenties though I’m in my mid-forties. The crunching knee on the stairs and my teenaged children remind me of this truth, but still.
There is nothing wrong with aging. I’m writing a book. My kids are in middle school. My husband is experienced and professional. I’ve had several careers already. But there are moments when you realize that the age you feel just doesn’t match your actual age.
The other day I held a casserole in my pot-holdered hands and I marveled fleetingly that I was doing this thing of ‘cooking food’ and ‘feeding people’ and don’t they realize I don’t even know what I’m doing?! I will concede I’ve been doing it for fifteen years, but I still have that flash, that moment, that reflection.
During our discussion on the car ride home from the party, because there was no way we couldn’t discuss that moment, my husband and I reminded ourselves that young people want a realtor (in this case) who has the kind of experience my husband has. He is extremely knowledgeable about real estate and that’s because of his extensive experience. (His experience is almost as old as that woman.) When he was young, way back when, he didn’t have his current practical knowledge. He wasn’t the expert he is now.
Some time has passed since the party. I’ve leveled out. I’m good with all of it. My age, young people’s age, my kids both teenagers, friends turning fifty, my parents in their seventies.
I marvel at the passing of time, but mostly I am proud of having the life experience that I know I never had in my late twenties. So what if 1999 is, indeed, “way back when?” I’m ok with it. It only took me a couple of weeks to get there.