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Three Gray Hairs

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.

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