Monday, June 17, 2013

Being Twenty-Five

Today at breakfast, an 18 year-old staff member asked me--sweet as can be--"Do you prefer to be called 'Heather' or 'Mrs. Sterndale'?"

I nearly choked on my tofu. Everyone at the table grinned with hilarity. I was unsure exactly how to answer, so I just said, "Well, I didn't actually change my last name when I got married, so 'Mrs. Sterndale' wouldn't be right anyway. You can just call me Heather."

"Oh, okay," he said, lifted his empty tray and walked to the trash cans.

Whhhhhhhaaaaaaattt?! Am I that old?

At summer camp, the median age stays the same, while my age continues to increase. I'm only 25, but many of the staff are no more than 18. This fact becomes apparent in different ways.

Like when filling out staff forms and writing our birth dates. "Nineteen eighty-seven? Wow. You're an eighties baby. I've never met one."

Or when someone suggests that we sing "He is Exalted" at campfire. He asks who knows it. My hand goes up along with a few others, all of whom have gray hair, and he says, "Yeah, it's an old one."

We're talking about seven years and yet it feels like generations.

Our logic.
Our priorities.
Our jokes.
Our music.
Our cultural references.
Our life stories.

I feel the difference and I'm not even that old. This makes me more aware of what it must feel like to watch an entire media industry cater to only one generation: the one that's currently less than 30. What it must feel like to see music, advertisements, and movies that only tell the stories of young twenty-somethings about to engage in this great adventure. And we don't as often tell stories of forty-somethings or sixty-somethings, parents, divorcees, entrepreneurs, or those who are somewhere in between.

Tonight, I'm reminding myself that 25 is a number too. And it's a damn good one.
Twenty-five means marriage and a degree.
Twenty-five means being strong and keeping up physically.
Twenty-five means being far less concerned with what others think.
Twenty-five means far greater peace than I had at 18, and for that reason alone, I'll take it.