I really feel quite old at the moment. Before you let out an audible groan, I do know in my more rational moments that this is (i) not true and (ii) likely brought on my the fact that I recently celebrated my birthday. Actually, out of all the people I know, most of them are my age or older.
However (and quite alarmingly, I think) the New York Times tells me that on a world scale the population is currently divided evenly between those under 28 and those over 28. Which means that I am right on the cusp of being over the hill. I am currently sitting on the top of the hill peering over to the other side. Due to the aging nature of the world’s population, by mid-century, the median age will have risen to 40. As I will be well past 40 by 2050, this offers relatively little comfort.
It is not really the numbers that make me feel old so much as an increasing number of signs from my everyday life.
Firstly, I am married. And not even recently married. Hubby and I have just celebrated our first anniversary, which means that we are no longer “newly weds”. There is a whole summer-wedding-season of marrieds more newly wed than us. Unless something awful happens (which I really hope it doesn’t, touch wood, cross fingers etc. etc.), or one of us is really horrid (which I really hope we won’t be), then I will Never.Date.Again. I don’t know why this has only just occurred to me, and its not even something that particularly bothers me. It just that in the stakes of “single girl about town” and “married mother of two” I always mentally put myself in the first box, whereas I suppose I am really more likely to become the second. Which is a shame as if I was gong to be a Single Girl About Town, I would be one step closer to being Bryony Gordon, the feature writer in the Sunday Telegraph magazine (which my mother is kind enough to send me each week) who is very funny and someone who I would very much like to be (just in case any of my subscribers happen to work as editorial staff for the Sunday Telegraph…). It seems there is no requirement for a feature column about this middle group of people, which actually makes up a large proportion of my friendship group. Not Single-Around-Town, but not quite Mother-Of-Two either. More Married-And-Apparently-Still-Young-Ish-And-Happy-but-Hopefully-Not-In-A-Smug-Way. Catchy, no?
I have also noticed recently that I have grey hairs (few enough that I can just pull them out, and hope that six do not grow back in their place, but still concerning I think) and a habit of collecting empty jars and plastic bags with “good” handles. When did that happen?
The most obvious sign of aging is that I have cats. I am an old lady with cats. Even though they are the perfect low maintenance, young-person pet (they take themselves off to the loo (better than a child, then), sleep all day and don’t mind too much if you stay out late as long as you leave them biscuits), I do worry about them a lot.
You see, we have two kittens, a girl and a boy, who are siblings. Two kittens is lovely, but I definitely do not want more and apparently cats are less concerned about incest than humans are. I have become suspicious that they are shagging whenever I go out. The vet assures me that this is very unlikely, as they are still so young (too young to be neutered), but all the same I am convinced that whenever we leave the apartment they get a bit jiggy. I find it mildly hilarious that having spent the last ten years being convinced that, despite all the evidence pointing to the contrary, I might accidentally be pregnant, my concern has now shifted to whether we will hear the pitter-patter of little paws any time soon.
Actually the cats were bought as a sort of anti-aging measure. My friends and family will testify that I have a tendency to be just a touch stressy and controlling. Apparently, stress is really bad for you (I think it is a brilliant motivator, but others tell me I am wrong). In its extreme form stress can lead to heart disease, ulcers or a less effective immune system. Not ideal, especially if I want to be Bryony Gordon, who does not look stressed at all. Owning cats can apparently lower the risk of cardiovascular disease and heart attack, improve one’s immune system, reduce blood pressure, lower cholesterol and reduce anxiety. I think it must be all that purring and sleeping – impossible to be tense around that. Unless you lie awake at night worrying that your two kittens are actually about to become six or seven kittens…