“Where did you get that from? Guatemala? Honduras?”
I followed the Waitrose check-out lady’s gaze to my crotch area. Ah yes, I was wearing a multicoloured bumbag. Not for fashion reasons obviously, but as a nifty hands-free receptacle for any guinea pig grass I happened to find on my walk (I live in quite a gentrified area now and strolling around clutching a big fistful of foliage is not the done thing. Neither is wearing a multicoloured bumbag but there has to be some compromise).
“eBay,” I told her, and she tutted and I wondered if it was too late to tell her that actually, I’d haggled it from a matronly market-stall owner in El Salvador on my way to a coffee plantation, but by then she was done scanning my cheesecake so I said nothing.
I was just starting to feel a bit dejected about the whole ‘nearly being out of my twenties and not having travelled the world yet’ thing, when the Waitrose lady told me she wanted to see my ID for the wine. I laughed a bit to acknowledge her wit but she waited, straight-faced, for me to get my ID out. Couldn’t she see my giant forehead wrinkle? My giant forehead wrinkle could just about see her. Bemused, I handed over my driver’s license and told her that I was going to be 29 in a few days. She smiled and shrugged and said I should take it as a compliment then, and I smiled and shrugged and said thanks very much.
I don’t know why I feel like this short exchange in Waitrose is worth writing about. I suppose it’s that time of year when I start to mull tediously over the rapid passing of time, the impending approach of death, whether I am leading a good life and other typical birthday thoughts like that. As I approach the last year of my twenties, I suppose it feels nice to be mistaken for a teenager because it brings home the fact that I’m being a total drama queen about things. Yes I’m getting older, and looking a bit different (I’m talking about you, forehead wrinkle), but that’s a good thing because of course the alternative is being dead.
There’s this idea that your twenties are the best years of your life. I think this idea is what ruins them a bit. I’ve spent the last nine years of my life constantly asking myself if I’m having a good time, like an annoying spouse at a party. Am I ok? Am I sure I’m ok? I don’t look ok. Look at those other people over there, they look like they’re having fun. Am I having fun? Should I be more like those people over there?
And while I was busy asking myself if I was ok, life was happening – and it was actually really, really good (yuk I hate being positive).
And maybe, just MAYBE, those people over there who look like they’re having a much better time than me are secretly shitting themselves about the rapid passing of time too. And maybe we shouldn’t be ashamed of being scared of getting older either. I mean, it is really scary isn’t it? Maybe we have to allow ourselves to be scared of it before we can come to terms with it. Maybe it’s the constant denial of age and time that makes it so hard to deal with. We kind of secretly all believe we’re immortal, simply because it’s so hard (impossible) to comprehend an ending. So to be told that we are inevitably going to end and there is absolutely no way jose that any of us are going to escape it, is quite the dichotomy.
But it’s okay, because we have life. That’s the trade-off.
So. I am going to be a new age soon. Twenty-nine. And I can’t go back, so I must stop being a drama queen and instead be grateful for all I have and all I’ve experienced, which is etched upon my forehead in a single giant crevice of perpetual surprise.
But only one crevice, for now.