It takes a little bit of having lived to really begin to understand what it means when people say age is relative.
When the Northridge earthquake hit in January of ’94 I wasn’t quite 25 yet but I felt pretty damn old.
But not old like my parents who in my eyes were starting to get up there, in spite of the fact that dad had just turned 50 a few months earlier and mom was still 49.
Of course now that I have plenty of friends who have already passed 50 or are on the verge of it the number no longer has the same ring to it.
Probably because even though I haven’t quite ascended that particular plateau it is almost within spitting distance which clearly means it is not old.
Anyhoo with a new year beginning it is impossible for me not to get introspective and think a bit about the past year and the fresh start we have been granted.
A Fresh Start
This past January a friend called to let me know he and his wife had split up and to ask for my thoughts on some things.
He said he was nervous about being single and told me about some of the dates he had been on.
“Technically we have been living apart for almost two years but I didn’t tell anyone because I didn’t know what I was going to do.”
I listened carefully as he shared some more thoughts and led up to what he thought would be the big revelation.
“I kissed Sharon last week. It was amazing, like that Princess Bride kiss.”
“Did you call her Buttercup or stop in the middle and say ‘inconceivable?”
“I am serious man, it was amazing. I didn’t think it could be like this. What do I do?”
“Do you know if she feels the same way?”
He said no and said he didn’t want to ask her.
“Not knowing is better. If she doesn’t feel the same way I have a really nice memory.”
“Why would you leave it at that. Why not ask her what she thinks. If the kiss was that good for you it probably was ok for her.”
He told me about how his ex said men always thought they were Casanova when they almost never were and said he just couldn’t bring himself to ask.
I asked him if he knew what Dr. Phil had to say about that.
“No, what does Dr. Phil say?”
“Beats me, I don’t watch his show but if I had the same experience I’d talk to her about it. She might be waiting for you to say something. I hear they still expect us to make the first move.”
Flash back to January 17, 1994.
My dad and I are driving from Encino to Sherman Oaks to check on my paternal grandparents.
The road reminds me of being on the Universal Studios Tour bus.
There are car wrecks and crumpled buildings all over the place. I can see smoke from some fires and there is a general sense of unease.
When we get to my grandparents apartment building I point out to my dad that the building isn’t standing straight.
It is crooked.
There are pickups and Uhaul trucks all around that are being filled with stuff that comes from inside the darkened hallways.
My grandmother doesn’t want to leave but we insist she and grandpa get out because the building makes us uncomfortable.
“C’mon grandpa, we’re going to take you back to mom and dad’s place.”
He smiles and says ok.
Later on he’ll tell me if he was 60 or 65 it would be an adventure. It makes me smile to hear him talk about 60 or 65 as if it wasn’t the province of the elderly.
“Grandpa, that is still pretty old.”
“It is not as old as you think.”
Many months later my pal calls and tells me he is still seeing Sharon.
“Things are pretty good. Sometimes she tells me we fight too much except the thing is we never have real fights. They are just disagreements about little things. I think she brings that up as a way to get confirmation that I still love her.”
I laughed and said he better make a point to tell he could walk that line.
“She ought to know it but I make a point to tell her anyway. Besides she still tells me I should have found her years earlier, as if it is my fault we grew up in different places. I can’t win.”
“Brother, it sounds to me like you already have won.”
“Yeah, I guess I have. I never expected making a fresh start could be like this.”
I don’t know what 5777 is going to bring but I am excited to see what comes.
It is too bad my grandparents aren’t around to be a part of it all, I’d certainly tell grandpa he was right about age being relative.
I suppose it is part of living and learning.
Sometimes you have to be willing to take on the walls that you come across because you never do know what lies on the other side.
One kiss from life and nothing is ever the same.