Fourth of July was winding down, and I was having a difficult time discerning between firework pops and pipe bomb explosions. Especially since I rate our neighborhood’s sketch factor based upon the number of times I’m accosted each day by meth addicts. Or followed by a deluded prophet claiming I’m the messiah.
Like the other day, when I became a contestant in Super Market Sweep: Dodge the Addict Edition.
Dear Combative Meth Addict:
If you get up in my face and demand money for the nonexistent baby (MethSandwich) your “mother” (the woman lighting up behind the bush) is caring for nearby, and then proceed to call me a “curly-haired freak” after I politely refrain, be glad that all I say in response is “Good luck with that.”
Whether it’s the thumpa thumpa pulse of Koreatown’s nightlife, or the prevalence of PBR-soaked handlebar mustaches, I’m finding myself opting for the Age Exit where bootcut jeans and fitted tees are still in vogue. Where I’m not the only one fighting the urge to channel my inner 95-year-old, throw my hands up like some Charlie Brown character, and yell at the slow-moving hipsters sporting cutoff Mom jean shorts to find the other half of your pants! Fashion faux pas aside, I know I can’t blame hipsters for everything–and not just because I’ve straddled the hipster line a time or two.
Lately, I’ve realized that my late twenty-something self can’t bounce back from a few drinks like before, and my body needs a little bit more time to recover from that partial cross-fit workout–the one that ended with me chugging orange juice to quell my ringing ears and shaky body from succumbing to a blood sugar crash. Eight years ago, I could’ve caught a few hours of shuteye in a friend’s tub before reaching up and turning on the shower, dusting off my clothes, re-wetting my contacts, and springing to my seminar on art since World War II. Not only that, but I also could’ve qualified to be a cast member on The Real World or Road Rules. But now, I’m the same age as that guitar-playing country guy who everyone thought was old.
That, and I’ve been dealt unintended reality checks. By fourth graders.
“Like the Nintendo 64?”
“Well, sort of. But older. You know, the original Nintendo. With cartridges this big.”
I’d expanded my hands about six inches apart. Incredulous, they’d cocked their heads in unison, as if they’d been watching a Pong game. (Yet another inapplicable analogy.)
“Why would they be that big?”
“Well, that’s what fit the machine. Okay, well, y’all know what a Sega is, right?”
More consternated looks had followed, as if I’d asked them to write a book report on that old classic Where the Red Fern Grows. But then, salvation–the hand-waving blond class runt.
“My dad has one of those I think. It’s in a dusty box in the basement.”
“Alright. I think it’s time for y’all to move to the next station.”
Now, I know I’m not about to draw Social Security or anything. But there’re moments when we all realize that life isn’t stationary–that there will come a time when your jokes fall flat because the audience is too young to know why it was crucial to align yourself with either N-Sync or BSB (Backstreet Boys, duhuhhhh!). As infuriating as it can be, it’s interesting to acknowledge that I’m changing–that I’m cashing in all-nighters fueled by Red Bull and vodka for Melatonin and a few episodes of Murder, She Wrote. At 9:00.
Plus, with most of my twenties behind me, I’m starting to learn about all sorts of new things.
“You know, you really should get a colonoscopy.”
“Are you serious? Isn’t that for, uh, older…”
“Honey, just think about it. Especially at your age. And with our family history.”
I’m slowly making peace with my increasingly deep laugh lines, and tolerating the inset coffee stains on the backs of my teeth. But the unhealed shin scrapes still make me feel ancient, and remind me of my defunct circulatory system.
“Those still haven’t healed?”
“Babe, I heal like an eighty-five-year-old. On cumadin.”
But I’ve started to grow comfortable with the fact that peace and quiet and green space are more important factors in finding our new place than proximity to bars and clubs and ABC stores. That the din of nightlife can take a backseat to cricket chirps.
Sometimes, life gets incredibly loud. We let ourselves get lost in the cacophony, and ignore seemingly insignificant moments that, in hindsight, we grasp at for cherished remnants.
There’re plenty of reasons why we so easily dismiss a day here or there–chalk it up to a lack of coffee or bruised feelings–like there’s an infinite number to follow. But when we least expect it, we’re reminded in no uncertain, harsh terms that this is not the case–that we have to reconcile the good and the bad, and hug close any and all experiences. Because they make us who we are–they are our life’s manifold bookmarks, to which we turn on dark days to illuminate our minds and raise our spirits.
So the next time I have to skirt a group of tipsy hipsters hogging the sidewalk, I’ll bite my tongue. And smile, knowing that I’ve had those same good times, too. And will always welcome more.
Even if I experience them at a different pace.