Luis Pabon wonders when the shedding of his prepubescent skin occurred, and even as an older man, continues to struggle with the fit of his adult clothing.
I don’t remember growing old.
My sister is moving. The house she has occupied for the last five years of her life is now on the market. Our family is somewhat somber as this is a bittersweet occasion, one fraught with the expectation of having to adjust to more changes. It is filled with fear and uncertainty; unquieted even by the definite nature of labeled boxes. There are just so many memories left to pack up and at the same time unpack that she will eventually discard. A lot of nostalgia has accrued as a result of her living, loving and being here. As she packs, my sister looks at her things with that far away gaze given to dead things. I can tell by her gaze that she is going to miss this place. But I guess this is nature’s way.
I guess this is growing old.
While helping my sister pack up and clean sections of her home last night, I ran across an old family photo of my sister, her husband and my niece and nephew grinning for the camera. While gazing at this photo I wondered:
When did my sister stop being my sister? When did she become a married mother of two beautiful children who became the establishment of parenthood we once challenged and tried to overthrow when we were growing up?
We were once the developmental personification of hippie culture, with our cavalier, peace-loving, devil-may-care attitudes towards parents, responsibility and the invention of rules. When did we sell out and buy into the establishment of adulthood?
I thought about my mother and how it is increasingly difficult for me to fathom her ever becoming an older woman as she will always be the twenty-two year old, fun-loving, adventurous woman who lived by a rose bush on Briggs Avenue in the Bronx to me. But despite my fantastic hopes of preserving her soul alive forever, I know my mother will eventually grow old and graduate from this institution we call life. She will never have the chance to be the same person ever again.
I thought about myself and how my beard is now seasoned with inflections of grey, which I tweeze rigorously hoping to stave off the onslaught of age. My nose hairs once tamed with youth are now unruly and wild, raging like blood flows. Inside, I feel the same as I have always felt. I am who I have always been, maybe somewhat enhanced by the experiences that are supposed to enhance you: lost loves, moving, death, infidelity, etc., but nonetheless unchanged. But still I wonder:
When did we all grow up? When did my family become different, more distinct in our distance? When did we all transform into shadows of who we once were, amorphous in our definition? When was the exact moment we all decided to shed our prepubescent skins, to come out from under our old ways of thinking and force-fit ourselves into adult clothing?
It seems that we are all somehow clotted by age, kept at bay as we grow away from where we once were. We are a people always trying to figure out who we are now, always trying to find ourselves in the portrait of our losses, the waiting line of our regrets. Somehow we always never look the same. I guess they call this growth. But somehow that doesn’t ease the pain.
It is the pain of growing old.
Unedited Photo: Flickr/alex yosifov