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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Aging

When I was in middle school, I was allowed to choose two nights each week to stay up a bit later and I always picked Tuesday, the reason being that Thirtysomething aired that night. Thirty seemed such an in-between age. It wasn't cool like twenty or responsible like forty. My cousin was in his thirties at the time and I remember thinking, "what a boring time--you're not set."

What did I mean by set? I have no idea what I thought was going to be so precarious about my thirties. The characters of Thirtysomething were married and had kids and had careers--I'm still not sure why I thought crossing over into your forties would be so different. But I did.

Bleu and I constantly talk about getting our hands on old episodes of Thirtysomething to see how we process the same episodes twenty years older. In my mind, they remain impossibly realistic--this was how I believed adults acted; the things they thought about, the problems they grappled with.

And yet, as a current thirtysomething, there is a storyline that I don't remember them ever covering--the adult who still feels like a child. Someone like me who wrote a note to my co-volunteer this weekend and explained that I could fixed the document, but I'd have to go ask my dad for help. Or who calls my mother on a daily basis to ask my how-to questions. I am in the center of my thirties--about to add another year to my age in two weeks time--and I don't feel like an adult in the thirtysomething sense of the word. I don't feel like I am currently as old nor as responsible as Hope and Michael or Elliot and Nancy. I don't feel like I could handle things as they handled things and I have no memory of them calling their own parents as frequently as I call mine. I still feel like a child even though I am raising children. Even though in my circle of friends we have weathered all the hot topics covered on the television show--death, divorce, illness, career-change, job loss.

There was a time this week when I was looking at the blogosphere as a whole, thinking about the things individuals are grappling with--health issues, parental death, loss of spouse, divorce. And it all seemed so old. I was thinking at first what is up with the world that all of these things are scootching younger and younger. And then I realized that I was at that age--that age where these things happen. Yes I feel so incredibly young even if my numerical age and the grey hair belies that.

I'm not sure when the shift occurs--when you move from the dependency I saw inherent in your twenties (though my middle school aged eyes) to the responsibility I believed existed in every fortysomething.

I am letting my hair currently go grey. I'm not sure if this is a permanent decision or one I'll change my mind on down the road. I don't particularly like the grey streaks through my hair, but I also don't like the idea of covering them up and pretending that it didn't happen. I was having my hair done for my sister's wedding and the hairdresser offered to cover up the grey with a quick rinse. I told her I wasn't interested and I was going to let me hair go grey with time. She looked at me semi-horrified and said, "why?" I didn't really have an answer, it was just a gut decision.

When we got in the car, the ChickieNob said out of nowhere, "I love your grey hairs."

It made me wonder how she'll see this age when she is in middle school and her cousins are thirtysomethings and that time period seems impossibly far away.

24 comments:

reichmann said...

OMG- I loved thirtysomething too. Found season one on DVD at Netflix, which we belong to. Want me to order it and we can have a girls night in and watch?? Anyone else who's interested (and local) can join us. What do you think!?

Alex said...

Delurking.

It's sort of funny that I'm posting about my mother in a post that started out about becoming independent, but...

My mother will, to this very day, say -- in a tone that most people reserve for the sentence, "That school's guidance counselor was a convicted pedophile!" -- "She dyes her hair!" Now, this reflects in part the fact that when and where she grew up, "nice girls" didn't dye their hair. But they didn't pierce their ears either, and she has. So, no, beyond that, dyeing your hair represents (to my mother) a serious character flaw because you are trying to appear to be something other than what you are. This is a crime against all that is holy (to my mother) under any circumstances, including, but not limited to, failing to age gracefully.

And truthfully? I absolutely love this about my mother. Now, don't get me wrong -- if you want to dye your hair, dye your hair. But, really, let's not forget that how we look does not define who we are, and that whether we like it or not, we are all growing older.

bleu said...

First off grey hair growing naturally is sooooo sexy. Seriously. ChickieNob is one smart cookie.
Second I don't see having a tight family dynamic as being child-like. I see it as being communal with your tribe. I aspire to it. Before I was disowned (at 30) I called my parents every day, no matter that they were not wonderful parents and all that I was the type to stay in contact all the time.
I think it is wonderful and hope you do it always.
I DO remember feeling like that though, like they were "set" but I think it is all a false image. I think as we grow up we realize no one has their life "set". IF comes along, tragedy, illness, lay-offs wars etc. I think the part where we have grown up is more about realizing that then anything else, when we are young it is still a wizard and then we see the man behind the curtain later.
You know we are going to have to re-watch it now don't you?

bleu said...

I checked Netflix btw. they have it listed but the release date is unknown. The only way I have seen it available is through china 88 episodes on 22 dvd's. LMAO

http://www.unforgettabletvshows.com/product_info.php?products_id=157

Jess said...

I wonder what it's like to be SO OLD! :)

Just kidding. Har! I'm darn skippy near 25 nowadays! STOP LAUGHING!

I agree....growing up is about realizing that nobody has all their shit together anyway.

There's always something.

I don't think it's childish to call your parents. That's the kind of thing family is for!!

Lori said...

When my friends and I lived in Japan, we hungered for someone to record Thirtysomething and send videos to us. Watching 6 hours was the highlight of our month. We went out and bought matching shirts and ironed lettters on our backs. I was Hope.

I still want my mommy when I'm distressed. And I secretly hope Tessa and Reed do, too, when they are thirtysomething.

May I join you and Bleu? I'll bring popcorn.

P.S. You are beautiful. Period.

Overwhelmed! said...

My husband introduced me to Thirtysomething a few years back. He has several episodes taped on VCR tapes. Want me to track them down for you? :)

You know, I'm almost 40 and I still feel much younger than that, even though I'm a "responsible" adult with young children. I still call my parents with questions, I love buying toys for my son that I can play with too, and I don't "feel" middle-aged.

I am, however, dying away my gray hairs and will until the day I die, just as my 91 year old grandmother did. :)

luna said...

my hub once told me that he hopes when I go grey I keep it. he says it's a sign of aging gracefully.

I think it's sweet how you are so genuinely close with your parents. and great for your kids too.

I agree though, it's funny how I don't think of myself as old... until I get around some young 20-somethings, then I start to feel pretty old. or until I start to associate what I *should* have/do/be at my age...

Michell said...

I never watched thirty something. I don't know why, I just didn't. I do know though that when I was younger and viewed 20's and then 30's as being old and so adult like I always figured that when I was that age, I would feel different. I don't. I still feel a lot like how I felt at 20 and 25 and 30 and that is such a strange feeling.

Ms Heathen said...

I LOVED thirtysomething first time round! At the time, I was a twentysomething, living in a freezing cold student house. My best friend and I used to huddle together for warmth and watch it on a tiny black & white TV! We would compare our lives with those of the characters on the show, and try to imagine where we might be in another ten years or so.

One of the digital channels here in the UK repeated all four series of thirtysomething last year, so I got to watch it all over again! Although some of the outfits the characters wear have dated horribly, many of the storylines still felt very relevant. I find that I'm constantly on the look out for any references to infertility and pregnancy loss in popular culture (I have vague plans for a book on the topic), and so was particularly interested in the episode in which Hope suffers a miscarriage; I related to that storyline in a completely different way now to how I did in my early twenties.

I can also report that my crush on Gary had not dimished over the years!

I do hope that you all manage to track down some old episodes, and have a good old wallow in thirtysomething nostalgia!

perchancetodream said...

Thirtysomething was, and remains, my favorite show. That being said, it completely makes me feel inadequate. I always wanted to be hope but ended up more like Gary! :-)

In my early 40's, I don't feel grown up either. I know that part of that comes from not having a child or a house - 2 things I associate with being an adult. I wonder how getting either of those will change me....

Jendeis said...

How is it that you so read my mind about these things? This is exactly how I feel. Oh, except about the greying thing, but that's only because I'm greying in spots not streaks, not attractive at all my friend.

Jen said...

Well, if it makes you feel any better, I've got grey hair and I'm only twentysomething. I won't dye it either because I'm too lazy to keep getting it done.

Piccinigirl said...

I feel the way somedays, esp with the parenting stuff. I have a dr's appt tomorrow and I'm taking my mom to make sure I don't get caught up in things and forget vital things I need to tell him. When I had the boys I was adamant about her being in the OR with us, I call her every day and when I don't talk to her I feel lost. She also drives me crazy, but it's my crazy and I love her.
I remember when 30 seemed so old myself and how it would feel to be so put together, in a relationship and being "grown up". What I learned is that I don't know if I am grown up and I'm on the far end of my 30's...I hope that my 40's are a time for me to "mature" :)
Right now I'm just faking it.

Kathy said...

Thirtysomething is one of my all-time favorite TV shows! I was really into it when I was in high school and then into the re-runs in college. I use to have this thing about how I felt God would speak to me through Thirtysomething as I would be having a bad day and the topic of the show would totally relate!

It is hard to believe that after all these years I am now 33 and Thirtysomething myself. I have been trying to get the powers that be to put Thirtysomething on DVD for years and I don't understand why they haven't yet. I may have to order it from that link that bleu shared! I really like anything by the producers of Thirtysomething as they are such great writers (you probably know this, but they did My So Called Life and Once and Again to name a few).

Thinking back on the characters Melissa was my favorite of the women and I just loved her unique style! I thought Gary was so cute and was so sad the night he died. I remember one of my h.s. friends called me and I was bawling and she asked me what was wrong and I told her that "Gary died." She said "who's Gary" thinking he was a real person and I told her that he was on Thirysomething!

Ironically my life is a lot more like Hope and Michael's now, but I am not complaining...

Anyway, thanks for sharing! I did find a book on Amazon's used section awhile back that has about 6 of the episodes scripts from Thirtysomething on it. My copy actually was signed by some of the cast and writers. It was very cool to read! I also have the soundtrack and enjoy listening to the music now and then.

Sorry to go on and on... a mention of Thirtysomething apparently has that effect on me! ;) As an aside, I didn't comment on your recent post that talked about Rent, but that is my favorite musical! I have found so many of the songs to be very therapeutic during my SIF and pregnancy loss journey, even though they were intended for people dealing with AIDS. That is too funny that you went to a wedding w/ a Rent theme!

Lastly, thank you for your wonderful blogs posts, for maintaining Lost and Found/Connections Abound and for really being the glue that helps keep our IF and Pregnancy Loss community together! You're the best! I look forward to reading your book when it is complete. I am sure it will be awesome!

Take care,
Kathy

loribeth said...

Another thirtysomething fan here -- I was a young 20something newlywed when it was on. I wanted Hope & Michael's house, not to mention that adorable baby Janey.

I put highlights in my hair, but my hairdresser is also pushing for colour. I told her I'm not ready for that yet (not sure if I ever will be), & that as long as there was a balance between gold & silver "highlights," I'd prefer ot keep doing highlights every few months, lol. I think grey hair can be very nice, although the in-between period when you're half grey & half your original colour can be kind of drab, depending on how they look together.

There is a book out right now, I think it's called "Going Grey" about the author's decision to let her hair go grey, & the cultural resistance to grey hair.

At 45 & 47, my sister & I (both childless/free, she by choice, me by infertility & loss) are still "the kids." I too wonder when I'm ever going to feel like a grownup. And my 51-year-old dh says he's still deciding what he wants to "be." lol

Shelby said...

My parents would never let me watch thirtysomething, but I always wished I could. It seemed like they were so grown up, and I couldn't wait to be in their shoes.

I hear you on the grey hair! I've been trying to decide what to do with mine...and haven't come to any conclusions yet. To embrace age, or live in denial? That is the question!

**susy** said...

I never feel my age. And honestly, when I'm asked my age (outloud or not) I need a moment to remember. Don't know if its my spirit or the way I live or what, but I definitely don't feel my age.

I do sometimes ponder on the differences between me and my girlfriends, what we've all been through together and individually, and that tends to make sense w/ our physical age, but on an everyday basis, I don't feel I am the age I am.

And as for grey hairs, go for it! I tell my mom all the time to let hers grow out... but she's like me, we just like to do 'different' w/ our hairstyles.

Sunny said...

I think about this often. In fact as I was doing my hair and checking out my grey I thought, Man I am getting old. Tomorrow is also 10 years for us. 10 YEARS! OLD is all I can think about. HA!

There was something on the news yesterday about the change in the parent/child role. My mom didn't understand it. I told her it is me taking care of you instead of the other way around. OLD again!

Finally I LOVED thirtysomething. I thought they were so old. I never thought I would be in that same place. I keep checking netflix for the show. When it finally comes out on dvd where I can get my hands on it, I will be watching it in a HUGE way! I too wonder how will I look at the show now that I am in that 'age'.

Shattered Paradigm said...

Great post!

It is refreshing to read something so authentic.

I would be curious to see what you would think of the article I just wrote....

10 Powerful Secrets For How To Build A Great Marriage:

http://shatteredparadigm.blogspot.com/2008/05/10-powerful-secrets-for-how-to-build.html

Queenie. . . said...

I still feel like a kid, too. It was such a relief to see that you have kids of your own, and still feel that way. I've been wondering if maybe my growth was stunted by our failure to reproduce before now!

Pamela Jeanne said...

Like Loribeth and Lori I was in my mid20s when thirtysomething came on and I watched with fascination what lay ahead...

As a 40something now I still feel very much the same as I was in my mid20s in many ways except the grey is coming in fast and furious.

I've been messing with my hair color since my late 20s. I've gone from natural brown with highlights to red to nearly all blonde to dark brown/almost black now. Funny coloring comes up in your latest post as I just decided I needed to avoid looking too severe and just made an appointment last night to get some warmer highlights. They will also make the gray less obvious. My grandmother's constant reminder when I'd ask how it felt to grow old was "you're as young as you feel." That's now my answer if anyone asks...

rachel said...

i must delurk in honor of thirtysomething... LOVED that show!

i am now forty-something...and actually feel younger then i did when i was in my 20's "trying" to be so grownup. probably helps to have an almost 6 year old too (most of our friends had their children 'later' in life).
it's wonderful you call your parents for advise... you are still their 'baby'. i think it was a line from the phildelphia story... isn't it a daughter's job to make her father feel young? we all want to 'be needed'.

thanks again for making me think of such a fantastic show...i actually thought of myself as 'melissa'...my brother and his wife and my then baby niece (close to janie's age at the time) were so michael and hope. i must confess, when i was working at warner bros a couple of years ago, i was on a tech scout with timothy busfield (aka, elliot)...he started talking to me about my work on the show i designed. i tried to act all cool about it, but what a damn thrill. he was always SO nice and would stop to say hi.

have a great holiday weekend...

rachel

Aurelia said...

Mel, I think grey is fine...but remember that sometimes the color causes the texture to go funny on some women.

So some women, get a rinse or a grey color on top, just so the hair will behave the same as the rest of the hair and not be a issue. This has happened to me, and I swear, it is so completely annoying you just might change your mind.

Another thing to think about? Whenever I got more grey than normal, it meant my thyroid was out of whack, or various other hormones.

Get that checked please. It's not always simple aging, sometimes it's an important health symptom.