Wanderings through life, landscapes, and occasional loopiness. So pull up a log and have a bit of a sit-down ’round the virtual campfire.
Age Ain’t Nothin’ But a Number
And good morning to y’all. I’m on Mountain Standard Time here, so it is, in fact, morning still. I’m now set up in Paonia, Colorado (look it up–fly speck on the map, friends) and working my ass off at a western-based issues newspaper. Check it out: www.hcn.org. That’s High Country News. I haven’t worked a 9-5 job in a while, so I’m having a little bit of adjustment to make, trying to fit in the other things that make life run. Like exercise. And writing fiction. HCN is all about analysis and nonfiction, so I’m busy from the moment I get there ’til the time I leave. It’s intense but really cool because I learn neat-o stuff. Do I sound completely mature? Which brings me to a segue of sorts. I have a friend who tells me, “Andi, age ain’t nothin’ but a number.” I had a really, really hard time about 3 months ago turning 40. Shut up. I’m still not ready to discuss it. Lots of therapy ahead, I’m sure. Anyway, she’s in her 50s but she has a young soul. So I got to thinking about what age really means and how it plays into things like…
today’s discussion, which I’ve decided is about connections. Not just electrical, though those are pretty handy when you’re living in the holler. No, it’s about emotional and spiritual connections, too. And I guess physical, if you go that route. And the other part of the lesson has to do with harmonic convergence (as opposed to hormonic convergence, which is a whole other discussion). I bring this up because I’ve spent a lot of time over the past 10 years trying to figure out who I am and where the hell I’m going. Granted, I don’t expect that I’ll have the answers. If I did, then what would be the point of continuing my explorations along these paths? That’s the nature of the beast, friends. It’s not really about the end of the journey. It’s about the journey itself. I say this because over the past 10 years I’ve become more open to possibility and much more forgiving of people’s faults. Shit, we all have those. C’mon. Own it. You do. In the spirit of proving my point, I’ll list a few of mine: I can be critical, overbearing, annoying, and a know-it-all. Oh, and I have this really heinous perfectionist streak but fortunately, I don’t generally slap that on other people. I instead apply it to myself, which means I spend an inordinate amount of time trying to figure out how not to be a failure. Which leaves little room for me to make mistakes. I spend a lot of time trying to ease up on that.
Anyway, because I have relaxed a bit about things like that, I’ve discovered that I’ve met lots of interesting people I probably never would have even deigned to hang out with prior to starting the internal soul-sifting that I’ve been doing. Picking yourself apart makes you see that the human condition is universal, that gulfs can be bridged when you’re dealing with people face-to-face. It’s when you wall yourself in to the exclusion of others that you develop myopic views of where people stand, how they think, and who they might really be. I’m not suggesting you go running around spilling your guts to every stranger you meet. But there is something to be said for keeping your possibility windows open, because every person you meet has something to teach you and might have something to learn from you.I’ve been mulling things like this because I’m going to spend the next 4 months or so in a town of 1300 people. Oh, I can get in my car and go hit a mountain trail or visit the Gunnison River’s Black Canyon. That’s not a problem. But living in a place like this, which is a microcosm of the world, makes you examine who you are. Especially when you don’t really know anyone yet and they don’t know you. It’s an exercise in finding out where you stand and what you plan to do about that.
So I’m thinking a lot about connections. I have lots of online connections, which means those don’t necessarily change though my online connectivity is limited these days because I work so much and because internet service is…well, suffice it to say it ain’t the best. So when you’re left with no TV (unless you have a satellite dish here, you get 1 or 2 channels and those just barely), a funky little community radio station, and limited internet, it does bring out the introspection in one. And that’s good. It takes you right down to the essence of who you are. So here in the holler, I’m learning more about how I want to define myself and who I’m going to be. That’s sort of heavy, but it’s a search I’ve been on for a while now.Which brings me to my roommate. There are two interns every 4 months at HCN, though they’re changing it to 3 interns for 6 months come June. My roomie and I are the last of the pairs. Which might be a good idea, because intern drama can develop in these isolated pockets of the world. He and I spend virtually every waking hour together during the week. We live together, we work together. My roomie, who I’ll call C, is a 22-year-old guy. Holy hell, I’m old enough to be his mom. Yeah, yeah. Shut up. Anyway. I had a feeling I was going to like C when we started emailing prior to getting here. And sure enough, in person, I like him even more. Now, I’m not going to jump the fence and go all straight on you–I happen to enjoy hanging out with guys because I enjoy their energy. I’m not sure why. It just resonates with me sometimes. I seem to have a lot in common with guys, especially younger ones. Anyway, if I had been born a guy and identified as a heterosexual male, I’d be C. It’s like having a younger brother around but also something else. Some kind of…connection. I really like him. I like his energy, I like his view of the world, which is similar in some ways to mine. He’s also really funny so we spend a lot of time laughing. And that’s really, really important. To get that laughter thing going. It’s saved me many a time from heinosity (good word, yes?). So my ultimate point is, you never know who you’re going to meet. I had to come to a tiny-ass town on Colorado’s western slope to meet a really interesting young man who I know I’m going to learn a lot from. He’s 18 years my junior, but why does that have to matter? We’ve found common ground and exploring different generational outlooks is proving really, really interesting.
I also have a friend who is 18 years my senior. We’ve found common ground in many ways, as well. Unlike C, who is outdoor born and bred, X is urban to the core though she does outdoorsy things. She moves in rarified air because her job brings her into contact with Many Important People. So what the hell do we have in common? Well, like C, X is very grounded in some ways. She, too, is also extremely funny. She has a very dry, sly sense of humor, whereas C’s tends to be on the goofy side. I know I have a lot to learn from X, as well, because she’s got a few years of life and living on me and she’s the kind who accepts her choices and the ramifications of them, chalking it up to How Things Are. Two entirely different people, but people with whom I’ve made connections in which I accept these two people for who they are, not who I want them to be or who I wish they were. They just ARE and I like them both and the years that separate me from them are only timelines, not dividers. I guess meeting them has also helped me, in some ways, remember that you are only as old as you want to be and that chronologically, age really is only a number. And right now, C is out snowboarding with his dad, who turns 60 today.
So grab life by the horns, friends. Because it’s a hell of a ride.
Catch you later and I hope things are well in your corner of the world.