Okay, I admit it. I have a problem. It has to do with my age. The number is simply too big. This was brought home recently when a group of my high school classmates started organizing our 40th reunion. Yes, 40th! (This is your cue to pipe in now with, “I can’t believe you’re 58. You certainly don’t look 58.”) Yes, it was 1978 when my twin brother, Tim, and I crossed that stage at Leaside High to collect our paperwork and head off on the next phase of our lives. I left for McMaster to study engineering. Tim couldn’t get in to McMaster and settled on the University of Toronto, although he wouldn’t necessarily describe it in those terms. But I digress.
The point is I simply don’t identify as a 58 year old. I don’t have a fear of aging. I’m not always pining for the good old days of my youth. I would never consider plastic surgery or even dying my hair. But I simply don’t think of myself as one who is a chip shot from 60 years old. I think my own impression of myself seems locked in my mid to late 30s. Occasionally I catch a glimpse of myself reflected in a store window and wonder what the hell happened. But I don’t think I look that different from the way I looked 15 years ago. Well, let’s go with five years ago.
I confess I seem to be having some trouble wrestling with the reality of my years. Our sons are now 26 and 23 with one already flown from the nest and the other flapping his wings. But I still do all the same things I did 10 years ago. My weekly schedule hasn’t changed much. I go to the office most days. I write and promote my novels other days. I play ball hockey once a week. I like the same foods now as I did a decade ago. I read books, often the same authors I read in 2008. Much of my life feels the same as it did back then. Yet, I’m now 58! And yes, there is perhaps a little distress in my voice when I say 58.
At the office, I still think of my 30-something colleagues as from the same generation as I am, but we’re clearly not. I know this is what happens and that I’m simply following the script for many men of a certain age. But it still catches me now and then. When the topic comes up, I’m not shy or embarrassed to say I’m 58, I just have trouble believing it’s actually true.
The only time I feel every one of my years is the morning after playing our weekly ball hockey game (that would be this morning). When I started playing ball hockey more than 33 years ago – back when my hair was thicker and I was thinner – I felt just the same the morning after a game. Now I can barely lift myself from the horizontal without a chorus of groans and a stiffness that makes me shuffle like I’ve only got a few more steps left in me. Even four days later, I can still feel our game impairing my mobility. And it has not escaped my notice that I don’t have the same hand-eye coordination, blistering shot (such as it was), or scoring touch (yeah, right) that I once enjoyed. The years have brought with them, like some unwelcome companion, a slow but steady decline in my play. Thankfully, we only play once a week, and by the time our next game rolls around, I’ve forgotten how the morning after feels and I’m pumped to get back on that concrete floor.
I know when I soon see my classmates from 1978 at our 40th reunion they’ll all look just same to me as they did back then. That’s what happens. I’m pleased to report that no one has yet offered me a senior’s discount at the drugstore, but I feel that day approaching. In the meantime, I’ll cling to the image of my 35-year old self, avoid mirrors, and endure the mornings after ball hockey games until reality shakes me out of my delusion, preferably without the aid of a defibrillator. And now I must go and tape my new hockey stick.
In 2020 LHS will celebrate its 75th anniversary. Former students and staff are urged to visit leasidehighschool.com/join to register and stay updated on all the anniversary news.