Question Mark

Recently this happened to me. I could not find my car keys. This in itself is not unusual. I did my usual trick of reliving the last time I used them, imagining what I was wearing and emptying pockets, remembering where I went straight after arriving home and checking those locations, searching the drive way for a possible ‘drop’. No good.

During all this process there had been two new poly-pins of milk on the hall shelf. At first this didn’t register as odd. Things are often out of place Chez Harrison. A small child asked if they should put them away…fearing a dairy based gravity catastrophe I declined their offer, hoiked the milk to the kitchen, and found my car keys…in the fridge door.

And that folks sums up what is happening to my brain.

I like to think that my head is so full of ‘stuff’ (things like which child has to be where, when; which other child is somewhere else and needs collecting when; how, what, when will I feed them; what equipment does each child need, is any of it still wet; have I remembered x’s birthday; did I remember to buy oranges etc etc) that that is why I lose my keys.  In reality I think it is more likely to be (whispers) my age.

When I ask my children to describe an adult I have never met (for instance a random sports teacher, a friend’s mum) I often ask them if they are old or young. My kids look perplexed and merely reply

‘Old, of course’.

And that is because age is relative. My daughter’s form teacher looks about twelve to me but as far as youngest is concerned she is just an adult. I look back at teachers from my school days and sometimes find out that they have just retired so that they must have been really quite young when they taught me 30 years ago. All I remember are adults who all looked around the same age (with the possible exception of my middle school science teacher who always looked ancient).

I now believe that 45 is really quite young…

It is a shame, then, that physically and mentally my body is not living up to that belief.

I can no longer stay up late. If I am honest I was never that good at it anyway once, famously, falling asleep in a pub in Netheredge, Sheffield at around ten in the evening. But even so I do now start to panic if I am not upstairs with enough time to allow for ablutions yet still be asleep shortly after the clock strikes ten.  If I do stay up, you know New Year or something similar, I actually feel ill for around two days. And actually I don’t want to stay up late.

I don’t drink, again never a strong point, because any amount of alcohol will still be affecting me adversely by bed time the next night. And actually I don’t want to drink.

My face retains the creases of sleep until well past lunch time. In fact I now believe some of those creases are not actually temporary but form permanent features on my visage, which is slowly slipping south. And actually I don’t care that much.

I own a slanket, I like watching Vera and George Gently, I take the Radio Times and highlight programs of interest with an actual highlighter pen (although I have yet to colour code by channel), I obsess about the weather, I like to allow time in an itinerary to ‘park’, I struggle with gadgets, I listen to Radio 2.

I go upstairs for something, get side tracked by something else, come downstairs and carry on with what I was doing until I remember I can’t do it until I have been upstairs for something. I forget people’s names, especially if I meet them ‘out of context’. I cannot recall words.

I did start to worry about all this until I spoke to friends around the same age who have exactly the same issues, likes, new foibles.

And any way I actually think middle age sits quite well on me. Some of this stuff was always me, now it just suits me better. But still I wish I had appreciated my skin, my figure, my mind and mostly my freedom when I still had it. As the cliché goes ‘Youth, its wasted on the young’.