“I'm old, Gandalf. I know I don't look it, but I'm beginning to feel it in my heart. I feel... thin. Sort of stretched, like... butter scraped over too much bread.” –Bilbo Baggins, Fellowship of the Ring, 2001
After I staggered to the bathroom this morning, I stared blearily at myself in the mirror while brushing my teeth. I realized something. I’ve gotten old. Last weekend, Brian and I left a friend’s birthday party about 10:30 when everyone else was just starting a movie. This Friday night I stayed up “late” with him watching the last episode of The Stand miniseries. We stayed up until midnight. On Saturday, we crashed a little past eleven o’clock.
I spend my days working (not enough), cooking, and cleaning. Our house is currently free from alcohol, desserts, and pop. I entertain myself by comparing my shopping cart to those of the people around me—if I have more healthy food than they do, I win. I’ve never been addicted to caffeine. The most I’ve ever had tea or coffee regularly is a couple of times a week. The craziest thing I’ve done in months is go watch The King’s Speech on dollar movie Tuesday all by myself. The really crazy part? I sneaked in concessions I had bought at Wal-Mart a few minutes earlier.
I have become a tired and mindless drone of indifference.
I was telling this to Brian on our way to church when it suddenly hit me. “Brian, I’ve always been like this. It’s just that there’s no way that a 21 year old college student can be ‘old,’ so when I acted this way, it just came off as being responsible. I wasted my youth!”
He tried to console me. “Well, you’ve had your fair share of all-nighters in your time.”
And then came my big confession.
I’ve never pulled an all-nighter.
When I was young, I got terrible anxiety when I couldn’t fall asleep. Like, panic attack anxiety. Despite the fact that I was pretty sure I was over it, I always tried my best to avoid all-nighters because of that nagging fear the sleep anxiety would come back. Because of this, I’ve always slept at night. There have been a handful of times I’ve fallen asleep at five or six o’clock or even slept only an hour or two around midnight before getting up again, but sleep has always happened before I start another day.
Brian was forced to admit that I had, in fact, never been a young adult. I got lost in responsibility. I said “no” to friends and “yes” to homework. I never pulled a prank in college. I never climbed up the fieldhouse roof. I never broke a Big Three. I was responsible at the cost of my soul. Okay, I’ll admit that last line is a little overdramatic. But this is serious business!
To be honest, I’m not sure what to do. If I just realized I was growing old faster than I’d like, I could simply pick up some habits I had as a young and wild college student, but since I missed out on this stage completely, I’m not exactly sure how to go about reclaiming it.