Thursday, October 02, 2008

Old Age

Everyone my age is bemoaning their age. I teeter ever closer towards being thirty. I'm not worried about how old I am but sometimes, something jolts me and I think about age, about time passing, about memory, and, as ever, about me.

My eldest nephew is 18. I did not do anything for his 18th. Did not send him a card nor even an email. Oops. In my defence, I thought he was turning 17 this year. Obviously, I am wrong. He finishes high school soon. He has a girlfriend. He's probably, you know, doing the dirty. We are friends on Facebook and I am loving how proud and subversive he is about his Asianness. He tags 'FOB' rolls (banh mi thit aka pork salad rolls; FOB stands for Fresh Off the Boat. I only learnt that a few years ago, from Sume). He is surrounded by Asian faces in his photos; I wonder, if I had as many close Asian friends when I was in high school as he has, would I have been as comfortable with my Asianness as he appears to be with his?

This does not make me feel old. It makes me feel the passing of time. Although, perhaps, I am just playing with words there. I don't feel any negativity, is all I am saying. When people say they feel old, they are using old as a perjorative. Yes, I feel my age (though I don't often behave it, so I am told). But I don't feel it as a bad thing. I feel the weight of history, when I discover my nephew is 18. Eighteen!?

I remember his birth, quite clearly. I remember the first few photos of him sent to me by his proud parents. I am astounded 18 years could have passed. I have to resist doing things such as sighing about what a cute baby he was (and he was) and remarking on how he was as small as a teddy bear, once (I have the photograph to prove it).

I lived with him and his parents for a short period of time when I was the age he is now: the age of asserting adulthood. That time feels both far away and not so long ago.

When I was his age, a newly discovered older cousin told me, sighingly, how he remembered me when I was as long as his forearm. My tart, witty response? I don't remember you from then.

When I was his age, I threatened his father, my eldest brother, that I would jump out of his moving car and then telephone our father if he took me to a function and left me there on my own. I did not want to go. My brother promised to remain at the function with me.

When I was his age, I lied to my parents about not crying when I phoned them on Tet to say hi and chuc mung nam moi and what are you doing and do you miss me and yes, it's cold in Melbourne.

Things have not changed so much. I still resort to snarky comments when I cannot think of how to make conversation with someone because they say something to which there is no response (and to pre-empt you: no, polite but ambiguous silence is just not an option (for me)). I still use guerilla tactics on my siblings when I don't want to do something they want me to do. And I still lie to my parents, partially through pride, partially through not wanting to let them know I'm sad or struggling or sick or ... anything negative, really. Ha. I ain't so grown up. But I must have, right, because ...

He's 18. Can you believe it?


Wandering Chopsticks said...

Last time I was home, I felt so old too. My cousin's two youngest kids, whom I saw as newborns, are now in high school. They had longish emo hair. Wearing wife beater tank tops. One of them asked me to punch him in the stomach to show his abs since he'd been working out. Then he helped me make blackberry cobbler. :)

lbw said...

Tell me about it.
Something happens when kids go into high 5 short years they go from being kids to adult looking human beings.
I was watching Idol :) the other night and it occured to me that I'm way too old to audition whereas during Season 1 I was the target age group!

lbw said...

at least you're still reality tv show age ...just... ;P

Oanh said...

WC - emo! I think one of my nephew's doing emo as well, but I'm not super sure. I wonder what he would think if he knew I'd been goth. tee hee.

mmm, blackberry cobbler. mmm.

LBW - I might still be reality TV show age (a million bucks here I come?), but I no longer qualify for UN professional program posts: I am in the age bracket where I need a masters on top of having worked in the relevant field and on top of just generally being a crazy overachieving genius. So, though I never really qualified, now I really don't qualify. Next year, my age takes me out of the running altogether. Won't matter what degrees I have under my belt. There goes that gig. Reality TV, here I come. ho ho.

lbw said...

re: UN.

Have you read "Emergency Sex and Other Desperate Measures?"

I met one of the authors a couple of years ago...
the NZ doctor. Really well written and eye opening.

Hey and you know reality TV can get you ...everywhere :)

I have a couple of friends who work for the UN. They never really struck me as the overachieving genius type ...more just really passionate and focussed in their field.

though I suppose one who is in her 40s now is not only super career woman but is super mother of 3 kids under 5.

Also in the aforementioned book, the female writer got into the UN in a non conventional way.

But at least you can still be a "young writer".


And hey reality TV can take you to all sorts of interesting places ..errr.. ..ummm...errr....hmmmm. ;)

Oanh said...

LBW - I've heard of it, but not read it. Another to add to the list :-)

I don't really want to work for the UN, but it comes as a shock thinking that I might be less qualified than I'm expected to be at my age. I'll get over it.

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