Against The Wind

This year I started working a full day in the school where I am an assistant teacher, which meant eating lunch in school. At the beginning of the year some of the other assistant teachers invited me to join them for lunch, they eat in an empty classroom in school. They are all my age, women in our 50’s. They have all worked in the school longer than I have, 8 or 10 years and one woman over 20 years. The conversation during lunch most often focused on some injustice that one of them had suffered at the hands of the head teacher, or some policy in the school they were disgruntled about. To say it was a negative environment is an understatement. I usually left with a case of indigestion and in a bad mood, and sometimes was even sucked into the complaining, jumping on that bandwagon. Finally one of the malcontents pushed me over the edge, and I told her I could no longer allow myself to be in such a toxic environment, with such conversations and the constant focus on minding everyone else’s business. I was done.

I found a room down the hall, which it turned out was where a group of assistants also ate lunch, but these were girls in their early 20’s. What a difference. No complaints, no talking about others, instead our conversations revolve around an upcoming marriage of one, the upcoming birth of a baby for another, and the world of dating foibles one girl is experiencing. There are discussions about recipes, what boots are on sale where, and a genuine interest in the good (or the bad) that may be going on in one another’s lives.

I am older than the mother’s of some of these girls, but they share with me and I with them as if we are contemporaries. I am glad to be part of this lunch group, but it has also given me pause: though I may feel I am “one of them”,  when I listen to them speak of their futures that lay before them, I am struck by the reality that just as they have so much of life ahead of them, I have lived so much of my life and have it behind me. It makes me think back to where I was when I was 21, not knowing what was to come, now looking back like watching a movie, my first car, my own apartment, a failed relationship, school, a job, meeting my husband, marriage, a step daughter, buying a house, a new career path, weddings and funerals, and on and on. Inside my head I am still in my 20’s, but the lines under my eyes and gravity wreaking havoc with my face, say otherwise. My friends who are my age have the same “reference points” that I have- we have grown up together, kept the same pace with milestones we have have reached, experiencing similar things and changes as we have grown older. They, like me, feel years younger mentally, but in truth we have 37 years of experiences since the age of 21. Sometimes I fall silent during our lunchtime discussions, thinking back to how it felt to turn the key and open the door to my first apartment, the excitement when I became engaged to my husband, the images still so clear in my mind’s eye, but so very long ago. Years before these girls were born. It makes me wistful, while at the same time being thankful for the many experiences I have had and the people in my life I have shared those experiences with.

These new found “friendships” have been a welcome addition to my life at this stage, keeping me “in the loop” of a younger world, making me feel younger in some ways, and much, much older in others. The contrast great between the person I was, I became, and now am.

Me on my 21st birthday

35 thoughts on “Against The Wind

  1. Lisa, so many others have already shared what I would say. But how true that our minds, souls don’t really age in the same order as our now 50-something bodies. I’m glad I’m not 21 any more, but having that body would be nice. By the way, I did a double let take at your photo…I had the same auburn hair and cut and wore a cream cowl neck and no doubt owned a rust blouse. Regardless of our wise “old” age, we do not need to hang out with negative Nellies.

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    • Terri thank you for your comment and I so agree I would no longer want to be 21! The hair was very Farrah Fawcett right?? I am glad to have reached a place where I am able to extract myself from the negativity and not second guess the decision or feel as I did when I was younger being afraid “what people would think” Liberating to realize I surely don’t care what the negative Nellies think!

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  2. Change keeps us alive since life stands still for no one…as I am finding out in older age. Thankfully, my 29-year-old daughter and her 27-year-old fiancé keep my husband and I behind the eight-ball. We all need to keep abreast of the times…or the times will move ahead without us. hugs…

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  3. Wise move on your part. Discontent can prove contagious. Nice to be in touch with a younger generation in a positive way. My granddaughter often reminds me that there IS a young world out there and it’s not easy. I’m glad I was young in the 60s rather than now. I think we had more fun and a world with fewer obstacles.

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  4. I think anyone who is a little older and in the company of some “youngsters” has some of these feelings. I’ve been there so I understand. I don’t know why some people feel the need to constantly complain but you’re right, It can be draining and you were right to remove yourself. Life is much too short.

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    • Glad you could relate to what I wrote George, with regard to feeling the contrast so profoundly when spending time with people so much younger. The complaining is something I have always had little patience for, and the older I get the more forthright I have become in getting away from it and telling someone why!

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  5. Great post, we are on the same frequency Lisa. Just the other day I was telling my wife how I am 21 inside but 55 outside. It’s tough for me to accept. Growing older is not setting well with me. Virtual hug from Vegas

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  6. You hardly changed at all 🙂 I am glad you could find a fresh window at school. Good luck on your career path DM, and whatever their age, never allow negative people to pull you down – but you already know that. I enjoy your writing.

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  7. Yes, it’s quite the mish mash of lives meeting, isn’t it, Lisa? (At work, 2 of my friends who are about the same age, have just in the last 2 months had babies, one a first son, and the other a first granddaughter!) I’m so glad you chose the positive lunch group over the negative. The age connection matters less than the positivity. I hope you choose to look back on your life favorably, as a collection of of wonderful experiences, and give yourself a huge pat on the back that you are continually adding to them, ever-willing to continue to broaden your horizons and boundaries. As well, you have much to offer these girls through your wisdoms and observations.

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  8. Once again a great post! I just mentioned to a friend the other day… I feel like I am in my late 20’s but my body is not cooperating.
    Oh and I can relate to the negativity thing… Why be around it!!

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