I spent my fiftieth birthday sitting in a movie theater on a humid Summer afternoon. Waiting for the previews to start, I thought about my life, as I sat in air-conditioned comfort On that day, I was an unemployed project manager, preparing to reinvent myself for my next major project — fatherhood.
In addition to the afternoon matinee, Esther and I planned to see another movie later that evening. I took advantage of the day knowing such opportunities would not exist in the next 60 days.
When Cristian was born four years ago, I was about twenty years older than the average new father. I didn’t feel my age, wasn’t delusional, or trying to trying to shave twenty years off my age to get more Tinder matches. I just wanted to start a family.
When Esther and I announced we were expecting a child, I heard the phrase fifty is the new forty — a lot. That phrase always made me laugh. It gave me images of buying a 1968 GTO without checking under the hood, or looking for rust.
Four years later, I’ve reinvented myself again, this time as an academic advisor at a college. A few weeks ago, Esther and I were discussing our work schedules for the coming week. My calendar was full of scheduled class visits at the college where I work. I mentioned the next day’s visit was with a younger guy, about my age. I wasn’t expecting the smirk she replied with.
The instructor wasn’t the Central Casting version of a college professor, a bearded white-haired gentleman, wearing a tweed blazer. He was an active fifty-something, with two kids under six, who runs, hikes and snowboards.
Since that conversation, I wondered, if I’m the fit, active dad, I believe myself to be or just delusional.
I’m aware that I became a father at an age where many friends were sending their kids off to college. They were touring college campuses when I was finding the Baby First Channel and rediscovering Sesame Street.
I’ve always thought of myself as young at heart, with a younger maturity level. I’m the one watching cartoons with Cristian on weekends. When Netflix dropped the Minions from rotation, I immediately ordered the blu ray from Amazon. I’d like to say I did it for him but…
Fifty-four years put some wear and tear on my body. The difference between me and the rusting fifty-year-old muscle car in the garage is, they are gentle miles. I’m in decent shape, am not taking prescription medication, and don’t need a few cocktails to unwind after work.
Life has a way of creeping up on you. I remember when I looked great for my age. Then I was the guy who got the approving nods when friends checked out my fiancé. These days. I hope they don’t think Cristian’s my grandson.