Feeling My Age

February 7, 2012

I realized today that I most often feel my age when I’m scared. As I’ve mentioned before, this period of my life mostly feels like awkward adolescence all over again (with a few important differences, of course). A lot of the time I hide in the space of being twenty-three-ish, especially since I’m a student and my days follow those similar patterns of waking up to study and run, go to class. It’s easy to hover in the artificial intensity of academic calendars and short semesters that require bursts of focus. There are times, however, where I remember that I’m nearly thirty, and things that happen to me are my own. It’s a strange blend of empowerment and loneliness that I have not identified before, but it happened today when I woke up with a strange pain in my chest (I’m fine, and it was on the right, not the heart-side). Of course my wonderful, concerned husband was there (and he convinced me to go to the doctor). I went to the doctor by myself and as I was walking down East 72nd Street, (the Upper East Side exists almost exclusively for doctors visits for me, I almost never need to go there otherwise) I kept imagining the different ways in which my doctor could explain my unfamiliar pain, what the possible spectrum of diagnoses might be. I realized, aware of this feeling in my chest with every inhalation, that whatever he was going to say was going to be mine to contemplate, address, resolve. I realized, as I near thirty, that I’m too old to ask other people to just figure situations like this out for me, to guide me through and make it better. I’m too stubborn and independent to really want that, but all along the comfort that this ushering to safety was possible was there. As I write this, I’m realizing that this may have happened long ago for other people, but it just happened to me, or maybe they find it in other places. I know that I can receive the love of everyone in my wonderful, loving family, but in the case of a disaster, I’m old enough to own it.

The good news is that the doctor couldn’t find anything wrong. All of the overly cautious tests revealed that I’m the healthy girl in my twenties that I’ve been for the past decade, but for the first time I felt this small shift.

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