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What is the RIGHT age?

Am I old enough?

Am I too old?

What is the right age?

It all seems so arbitrary. Even the age restrictions that are official seem arbitrary. For instance, in Massachusetts you need to be 16 to get a driver’s license, 18 to vote, and 21 to drink.

In Quebec, the drinking age in 18. In Ontario next door, it’s 19. I know plenty of people well into their 30s and 40s, who can’t drink responsibly, so who’s to say 18, 19, or 21 is old enough.

Before a recent workshop titled “Coping with Change”, a woman in her 70s discovered I was the one leading the workshop and said, ‘You don’t seem old enough to have had much change.” It’s hard to say if she thought I was younger than I was or if she guessed my age correctly and thought I was still too young.

A week later, I got a similar comment from someone of a similar age. Shex wondered about my qualifications for being a life coach and said I seemed to young. I was wearing blue jeans and a t-shirt that said “Otter Space,” so I likely looked younger than my 37 years, but maybe that is still too young.

My age has caused surprise and confusion for both me and others because no one, including me, knows what to make of it. I don’t appear to be doing anything that is age appropriate. I haven’t gotten married or had kids… am I too old now? I enjoy 60’s pop music by Petula Clark and Leslie Gore. Am I too young for that?

I sometimes regret that fewer people smoke and those that do use lighters because when I see someone walking down the street with their arms full, I can no longer quip, “Got a match?” I’m probably too young for that joke.

I like wearing my hair in two braids, and I have a mint green bike helmet with a pink flamingo on it. Too old for that?

When I turned 30, I had a mini crisis because I didn’t own a house or have a husband or children or a 9-5 job or a retirement plan. Surely those were all appropriate things to have by 30. My other friends had them. So, I went and got a live-in boyfriend. We moved to New York to start fresh and find new careers. A year later we broke up and went our separate ways. (Still friends, though.)

I don’t think I really wanted a live-in boyfriend or a career at that point. The reason I have been single most of my adult life might be less about not finding a house and husband and more about not actually looking for them.

Three years later, I left New York, moved back to Nantucket and moved in with three friends, who were renting a house together. Our ages range from 30 to 58. Which, if any of us, is too old to have roommates?

I have a job with benefits because I’m starting to be too old not to have that. But it’s part time, I pick my own hours and it allows me to do all the other stuff I want to do, like take care of goats and horses.

I ran into my friend Jane when I moved back from New York two years ago, and she asked me how old I was.

“Thirty-five,” replied. Her brow furrowed and she gasps, “Wow! You got older!”

“Well yeah, Jane. We met 10 years ago, so for every year you got older, I got older too.”

Interestingly, I had the exact same encounter with her a month ago at a friend’s memorial service. Once again, I reminded her that for every year she got older, I got older too.

I thought putting this down on paper would help clarify this a little for me, but I’m not sure I got anywhere. There are plenty of examples to show I’m simultaneously too old and too young and the exact right age to be doing everything I’m doing. Oh well.

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