Thursday, June 14, 2007

A New Adolescence

In my continuing ruminations about people roughly my age, the Boomers, I have come to the conclusion that many of us are in the throes of a new adolescence.

Just a few days ago I qualified for the Bureau of Labor Statistics' label "older worker," yet I feel sometimes that I have just turned 17. It's better than four or five years ago, when the collapse of a marriage had rendered me 11 years old: technically capable of taking care of myself, but sorely lacking in the common sense needed to do it well.

I remember well that first dance at which I mingled with the "boys," afraid once again of what would happened if I asked a "girl" to dance. Then I discovered the bar and recalled how much "courage" came from its concoctions.

Or that first date, I think we went to a concert, walked around some parks and tentatively held hands. Just like when I was 16 and my girlfriend, the first I ever kissed, was 14.

Or even my first car accident on a highway, a fender-bender really, due to a very peculiar driving history, which I'll save for another post.

Adolescence. The sense that one is alive, everything is very confusing, no one really prepared you for this, you'll live forever but you'll die of unrequited love, you'll try out new feelings and if people don't like the results let them look away. Freedom. Zest.

I can't help thinking that I'm in an adolescence in reverse. I go to book clubs, group discussions, dances, barbecues. Flirt, laugh, talk. Then retreat to my cave to ruminate.

In this new stage I started out adult, organized (or repressed), subject to obligations and routines; eventually I'll come out childless, unconnected to anyone in particular, retired, perennially out of school, seeking a sandbox in which to lose myself in another childhood, until I'm unborn back into the darkness whence I came.


anne said...

Unless one is truly stuck in a very "same old" existence I think for the majority of people a form of adolescence stays with us forever. Some is always new...(mostly there are always new problems) that keep challenging us. Especially as one ages the safety nets of the older generation disappear constantly, little by little. What's the difference between learning to ride a bike or walk well with a limp? Either demand reliance on the same quality in one's character, such as fortitude; age doesn't make a difference.

And socially, there are countless occasions where retreat or hibernation are so tempting to avoid having to deal with life on the line. Mental adolescence isn't really behind us, it's with us.

Sometimes, however, I can't help but wonder if Alzheimer's isn't some kind of escape towards adolescence again for susceptible minds.

Cecilieaux said...

Good point about Alzheimer's. I sometimes think it's a good thing, meant to shield us from being too aware of life slipping away.

Geneviève said...
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thailandchani said...

No interest in finishing with Alzheimer's either. I would much rather keep my cognitive skills, no matter what.

As for second adolescence, I often suspect most "boomers" never grew up to begin with!