Thoughts by Richard Bleil
My friend is stunning. Not only is she physically one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen, but she is one of the sweetest, most supportive and emotionally generous people I’ve ever met. And she was telling me how old she is.
No, she’s not old. She’s actually very young. I, on the other hand, am very old. She never believes me when I say that, but I’m almost eighteen months older than she is.
Yep, a little over a year older than she is. We’re both in our upper fifties, and she doesn’t understand how I can think of her as so young, and myself so old, but the difference really is in our station in life. See, she is married, has children, and even grandchildren. If you saw her, you would think she’s very young to be a grandmother. She looks so very young, and is so incredibly active, and yet she has grandchildren from several of her children. She’s incredibly young.
I’m still looking for a date. I was married very briefly, but with that tragedy aside, I’m still single and always have been. In Pink Floyd’s song “Time”, they sing “and then one day you find ten years have got behind you, no one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun.” This is me. We just had our forty-year high school reunion, and I still can’t find a date. Shouldn’t I be at a different point in my life? Where is my family? Where are my grandchildren? For a single man still looking for a date, I’m exceptionally old.
Age is always relative. She is very young to be at her station in life, and I’m way too old for mine.
It’s funny what we consider success to be. My high school class has a social media page, and for some reason I decided to answer a question one of my former classmates posted asking where we have lived. Me, I’ve lived (after high school) in Cincinnati, Boston, New York City, West Lafayette in Indiana, Kettering in Ohio, in South Dakota in Madison, Sioux Falls and Rapid City, and finally here in Omaha, Nebraska. The poster of the question asked if I worked for an oil and gas company, to which another classmate replied, “he’s a college professor, a published author and one off the few classmates with a Ph.D.”. It sounds impressive, and it’s a list of accomplishments that are certainly uncommon. In the meantime, as I look at my classmates, with their children and grandchildren, I can’t help but feel like I’ve failed at life.
My friend is such a success. Her kids have all moved out of the house, and yet still want her around. They’re marvelous people in their own rights and I’m honored to know most of them. They’re generous, successful and very nice people, and for that alone my friend should be proud. At such a young age, she has been so successful. And her family still turn to her for help and advice, to share exciting news and difficult times. Her grandchildren adore her, and get so excited every time she gets to spend time with them, often to babysit.
And she’s so young!
Me? I can’t find a date. And for good reason. I’ve been thinking about the standard life trajectory, and I’ve failed. High school is where you learn social skills and confidence, something that I never did. In college, those skills go into finding that special person with whom you want to spend your life, and if not, then it’s shortly after college. In your twenties, you’re supposed to cement a relationship and marry. In your late twenties into your early thirties you build your family unit, find your home, and start having your kids.
Personally, I’m thirty to forty years behind schedule. I’ve come to the conclusion, not with remorse but just somber clarity that for me, it’s just too late. The average woman goes through menopause in her early fifties, and those who don’t would risk incredible danger even if they did become pregnant. For me to date a woman young enough with whom to have a family would seem, well, some would say “gross”. And what kind of father could I possibly be? By the time those children were at an age that they wanted me to teach them to throw and catch, I’d probably be needing a cane if not a walker. I missed the starting gun, it’s just too late. I’m too old.
But my friend? She’s just a kid.