Well, if you must know, I’m 42 and 11 months, almost. But apparently my RealAge is 43.7 years.
I know! I was kinda shocked too!
At least once or twice every school year I still get the “You’re 42? I can’t believe it!! You’re as old as my MOM!!!” response from a student. I smile pleasantly and name that person my Official New Favourite Student for the month, but honestly, I’m pretty sure most people would pin me right at or about my age. I’m not under the illusion that I look particularly youthful, though there may be times when my mental age gives people pause.
If it’s true that you’re only as old as you feel, then I am fourteen, and twenty-two, and thirty. I don’t know if I feel forty-two because I have no idea what forty-two is supposed to feel like, except that by definition it feels a lot like this. I don’t feel significantly older, or different, than I did at most of the other ages I’ve been. The life experiences I’ve had in nearly 43 years have changed me, but they haven’t made me feel older, or wiser, nor have they made feel achy or creaky or tired yet. Middle age is supposed to bring either wisdom and maturity, or else apathy and cynicism — opinions differ on this, I’ve found. But so far, none of these things has happened to me. I am as idealistic, naive, optimistic and stupid as I was at eighteen. OK, not quite as stupd. But I can’t say that I feel my age, except that by definition, my age is what I feel.
However, there’s the other aspect of age: how close to death are you? Which is the only thing that actually bothers me about getting older. Unlike Nora Ephron, whose book I glanced at in Chapters today, I don’t actually feel bad about my neck or any of the other aspects of my middle-aged appearance, but I sure don’t like the idea of my time running out, especially when I’m having such a good time. So, prompted by a post on someone else’s blog, I decided to take the RealAge test and find out where I am on the age scale in terms of how long they think I’m likely to live.
I actually felt quite smug about taking this test. I don’t smoke, don’t drink, feel pretty good almost all the time, am within the acceptable BMI range, and don’t have any major health problems. I honestly thought I was going to come out a few years younger than my chronological age — maybe even under 40.
So I was shocked — shocked, I tell you — when I turned out to be 43.7 according to the RealAge calculator. All the things I’d thought were OK were indeed OK, but apparently the fact that I haven’t had my cholesterol checked counts against me, as does the fact that I was actually honest about how much fruits, vegetables and whole grains I eat (rather than putting down the amounts I intend to eat). Oh, and I lost points for not flossing every day.
Despite the fact that I still feel as springy, lively, naive and optimistic as ever, apparently I am in fact middle aged and there are all kinds of healthy things I should be doing to maintain that springy and lively energy as I careen down the steep slope towards elderhood.
This weekend I’m heading off to Eastport with some of my best galpals (ranging in age from a mere 30 to an august 47), which will definitely make me feel younger as I won’t have to be The Mommy and be at my children’s beck and call for those few days. If you happen to see me on the main road in Eastport, I’ll be the almost-43-year-old whose neck, skin and graying hair definitely show my age, but I’ll be bouncing along as if I feel sixteen. And flossing. Definitely flossing.