I knew intellectually that most people don’t go to seminary in their late thirties. I knew intellectually that most people don’t have their first child after their twelfth anniversary. I knew these things in my head, but I also, in my head, look the same as I did ten years ago. Being here in the seminary community I looked around and most people looked about my age. Here in our neighborhood most children are close in age to my children and most of the couples have done a few things between college and seminary. I figured we were in the same age bracket.
Then I began to pick up on subtle hints in conversations that this wasn’t the case. The first was someone mentioning that Toy Story was one of their favorite movies as a kid. It came out the year I was married. Then it was two conversations in two days that mentioned turning thirty as a future event and a third in which the young woman in question mentioned turning thirty as if it was something that happened to other people.
I was developing a complex. Could I be the oldest seminary wife in my neighborhood? I began to notice each time a gray hair popped up. I studiously avoided mentioning anything that could date me. I began doing math in my head (nothing short of a miracle for my head!) and realized in conversation that I was older than the associate director of admissions! Eventually I was thinking of myself as the resident elderly aunt.
On the day I picked up our day old bread, I was chatting with the young woman responsible for bread distribution and had the worst of the “advanced age” moment. This particular young woman has been married for seven months and is five months pregnant, so I’m already outside of my personal frame of reference when chatting with her, when she mentions that she knows my friend Nikki from Georgia. Nikki was her family’s nanny. Seriously. I am THAT old!
I’m standing there chatting about how much I appreciate Nikki and that leads to a conversation about having lived in Georgia for twelve years when she says, “Your husband’s from Canada too? How do two Canadians meet in Georgia?” I paused, and mentally replayed the conversation in light of the question.
“Um, we were married when we moved to Georgia.” I said.
Then it was her turn to blink while her brain took a turn it wasn’t expecting.
“You’ve been married twelve years?” she asked, incredulous.
“Uh. Fifteen.” I said.
“You’ve been married fifteen years!?!” She squeaked. “Wow. Amazing. You don’t look old enough to be married fifteen years! Wow! Good for you.”
So I’ve learned that yes, there are some people here young enough that I could have been their babysitter, but as long as I don’t say anything to let slip my age (you know, like “Boy did I have a crush on MacGyver back in the day.”) no one will be offering me glucosamine supplements and worrying about me breaking my hip.