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Three Gray Hairs

Sunday, December 18th, 2005

The first one appeared one night as I was getting ready for bed. Something shiny caught my eye in the mirror. At first, I thought it was a piece of glitter or something like that, but when I investigated, it was a long, thick, shiny strand of silver hair. More searching in the area turned up two more. I resisted the urge the pull them out, unsure if that was due to superstition or just the novelty of them. They pop out every now and then, and curl in the opposite direction as the rest of my hair sometimes. I guess I’m lucky, they are nice and silver, not a dull gray. And my grandmother, who everyone says I look more and more like every day, turned prematurely white-haired when she was 20. That would be weird.

The gray hair didn’t make me feel old really. But I feel old in other ways that I think is too early in life for me. Whoever said that the 40 is the new 30 really knew what he/she was talking about: I feel like I’m 40 sometimes. My shoulder hurts, my knee hurts, I can’t sleep late anymore. I’ve always wondered at what point do we stop growing and start aging? When we are babies up to probably our late teens, everything is great. We’re healthy, glowing young people, “in the prime of life.” So what is the turning point? At what age do we start getting old? For me, it was maybe around 24 or so I think. Exercise becomes harder, gaining weight seems much easier. But that is such a great age too. That’s the first time that I really felt like an adult. I bought my own, brand new car that year.

Buying that car was definitely a big decision, a financial burden that I would have for 4 years. But it was mine, no one else had driven it before me. If I got a dent, it was my car, I could choose to fix it or not. I still don’t know how to change a tire, but that car gave me so much freedom and independence. I didn’t have to rely on my parents lending me their car. I could go where I wanted, whenever I wanted. I started to learn about the city, find my own way around when I had to. Those first couple of years with my own car, I discovered more places in the city than I had the first 25 years of my life. My friends started asking me for directions on how to get somewhere, or restaurant recommendations. I became a world-renowned parallel parker, fitting into spaces that seemed impossible.

Parking on the street in Chicago for 5 years, you deal with scratched bumpers, never-ending dirt and salt in the winter. But having that little Honda Civic opened up more opportunities for me to get to know myself and my environment than I think anything else did. ‘sniff’ sadly, I decided to sell my little guy for trip money. It was surprisingly not sad, but almost liberating in a way. I now have a new way to explore the world, without car payments, paying for gas, trying to figure out if the mechanic is trying to screw you. I’ll be totally reliant on other people and my own legs to get me around now. I’ll probably get more exercise, have at least one bus-from-hell story, be delayed at some crazy airport. But I’m looking forward to it all. Without that adult responsibility of owning a car and everything that entails, I might be able to get some of my 20’s back. If 30 is the new 20, then my 30th won’t be about getting old; it will be about feeling young again, if only for a year.

Technically Saying Goodbye

Monday, December 12th, 2005

This past Saturday was my going away/ 30th birthday party. The whole time it was being planned, I felt like it was more of a going away party than a birthday party. With all the fuss going on with my trip, my birthday has taken a back seat to the planning madness. However, once the party actually happened, it felt more like a birthday party afterall. Unfortunately, I wasn’t feeling all that great, so the anticipated drunken fiasco did not happen. But it was still a wonderful time, and my friends shocked and warmed my heart by coming out in yet another so-not-at-all predicted Chicago snowstorm to see me off. Seriously, what is the point of having a weather prediction? Driving downtown on Saturday night, it had easily already snowed 2 inches, but on the radio, they kept saying, “Tonight, flurries of snow with UP TO an inch accumulation.” How is that any better than relying on Uncle Fester’s knee pain when predicting an approaching storm? But it wasn’t even a prediction anymore, it was already well past the one inch mark. Where are these guys reporting from, Florida? “Sure, they might get an inch of snow in Chicago. It could happen, right?!”

My friends were horrible to me however, and quietly chanted “speech speech” after I blew out my candles, knowing full well I hate speaking in public and having everyone look at me. I had absolutely nothing prepared and am pretty sure I sounded like 6 year old with a bad stutter. “Um, yeah. Thanks, so, for coming. I really, you know, um, appreciate it.” That about sums up my vocabulary that night. Technically though, it wasn’t goodbye, as I have separate plans with almost everyone who was at the party for lunch or dinner or something in the future.

As soon as I figure out this dilemma of photo storage, posting photos, memory sticks etc, I will post some pics of the party. While I appreciate “progress” and “the future” in the broad sense, navigating through all the new gadgets, gizmos and overwhelming choices is giving me a headache. Even though I get frustrated trying to explain “the internet ” to my father, it also humbles me, because I’m really not so far behind him on the scale of understanding this “computer stuff.” The fact that I have this blog up and running is no small miracle, so people asking for photos just have to be a little more patient with me.

The countdown is at 14 days til liftoff, literally. And the goodbye will be for real that time.

Chicago, my kind of town. Usually.

Tuesday, December 6th, 2005
There is a saying in Chicago that we don't have 4 seasons, we have 2: winter and August. Most Chicagoans have this extraordinary ability to pretend that our winters don't suck. Ask any one of us, and invariably we ... [Continue reading this entry]