One of the strange facets about getting older: not so much seeing your expectations come true, but realizing the fruition of things you never expected. We make plans for college, plans for careers, plans for retirement, and sometimes we even follow them.
But other things come to pass that we never expected because we never thought about them. For instance, who ever expected the phrase "keep it short, it's long distance" to disappear from the vernacular? Here are seven things I never expected:
The president of the United States is now younger than I am. By virtue of being born in 1961, at least he's still a Baby Boomer (1964 is the cut-off year). But the idea of someone younger than I am having that kind of authority is a little bit unsettling, at least the first time it happens. As my friend Charlotte says, you really only have to start worrying when the Pope is younger than you are.
The TV shows that I stupidly rearranged my schedule to watch as a child and teen-ager are now available anytime on DVD. I spent way too much time watching television as a child, despite growing up in sunny California. Even understanding the concept of reruns, I gasped and grasped at the chance to watch certain shows because I feared they would ethereally slip through my fingers. (Seeing them now and realizing how insipid they are, such as Bewitched, I wonder why I was so dedicated.)
I no longer believe that high school was the best time of my life. With the exception of Grad Nite at Disneyland (see Stumbling Down Memory Lane), I had a pretty terrific senior year. It started with a student tour of the United States after junior year, continued with a sweet and svelte sophomore girlfriend, and ended with a prestigious national writing award. It took a lot of years and a lot of therapy for me to stop idolizing the past and start enjoying the present.
I have forgotten the sound of my mother's voice. I keep searching for it in my memory and I can't conjure it up. Sometimes I feel like I have snippets of it, but the texture isn't there. I have no recordings of her; too bad Hallmark did make those recordable cards ten years ago.
I have become self-employed, just like my father. My father was in real estate, and he was at the beck and call of his clients. In my earliest memory of him, he's heading out the door on a weekend to work. The great thing about being a writer is that you're never really unemployed; you're just freelancing. The last time I made the transition from a staff job to freelancing, I decided to make it permanent, and now I know that serving my clients is what makes the mortgage payments. Although a lot of things about my father aggravate me, the fact that he taught me to have a work ethic isn't one of them.
All those years of painful dating make me appreciate my marriage. Dating was too often a fruitless and frustrating endeavor. But thank goodness I spent all those years doing it, because it makes me appreciate my wife that much more. Though I still want to divorce her twice a year and kill her once a year, I have no fantasies that something better is out there.
There would come a time when the words "I can't afford it" would be replaced by "I don’t want to spend the money." Of course, more recently, "I can’t afford it" has returned with a vengeance.
Generally, I hate surprises, but I can live with these.