The beauty of a journal is noting the individuals that play a part in your life along the way. Those individuals, or characters, may hold a significant role for several years or appear one day, gone the next. For instance, Aloha and Silverado were minor characters for a handful of years on my former morning commute. They gave me many-a-tale to share with my children. Stories they found farcical until they both experienced it.
Both my teenage daughters took turns journeying with me along that route for a year for differing reasons. The eldest, in particular, began to anticipate the entry of our daily commute characters from stage left or, in this case, from a south-western side of the county heading east every morning. The backdrop to the story was a long but beautiful country road with many other characters such as deer that popped out of from tree line or cornfields to dodge bumpers. There was also a sofa dumped on a country bridge, but that’s another story for another day. Soon my eldest had stories to share, too. The stories were more than humor but also learning lessons such as patience behind the wheel and that no one is a perfect driver. It also taught, at least yours truly, that I am not getting any younger.
While I was going to write more on my former work commute that included the abandoned sofa on a bridge, I decided to take a little detour. Honestly, detour should be my middle name. My life is made up of detours, U-turns, forks in the roads, and many a pothole. That’s OK. I like a good challenge, minus the time it takes to develop those stories or rather one’s age. Because if there’s one thing I cannot close the road for or even U-turn away from it is that growing number. A number I am forced to write down on about every other document that comes my way. Sometimes I wonder if the paperwork truly requires an age or is it just a way of keeping me in line — the way the number catches me off guard, questioning my memory. If I can remember the number, at all.
I don’t know if you’ve had this problem, those of the aging populace of 40-plus years, but it happens a little too often when I have to stop and think about how old I am. How old are you? comes the innocent enough question, followed by a quick crunch of numbers in my head. Sometimes it takes two crunches (about the only exercise I get these days is mental) because surely that cannot be right. I turned 30 just last year, right?
Pardon while I both laugh and weep over the fact, 30 was well over a decade-plus ago.
Perhaps it is an inability to accept that number, one that is evident by the growing number of gray hairs on my head, the inexplicable amount of aches and pains throughout the body, and don’t even get me started on my hands. Makeup can do wonders as does hair dye, but unless I wear gloves the remainder of my days, there is no hiding the evidence of my age among the heavily lined digits and craggy knuckles. I never fail to note the pale forms wrapped around the steering wheel of my karaoke car and even more so when curled over a keyboard. I’ve often compared my hands to the long, delicate fingers and smooth skin of my eldest child in consternation. My hands look like I’ve been wrangling the Kraken on the high seas. I’m the old sea captain with a pipe tucked into one corner of the mouth, and a pen behind one ear.
It is not to say I am complaining, oh no, I know the other side of the equation when candles cease to multiply on the birthday cake. Plus, there’s a lot of freedom in growing older such as if I am driving slowly or shaking a fist at other speeding drivers – I get to blame the whippersnappers. However, it is appalling the way time speeds along like it is in some early morning commute hurry. Aging doesn’t bother me so much as the fact time doesn’t seem to care about how we feel. It has no respect for stop signs, left turns, and certainly not speed limits.
Perhaps this is why I find so many stories in a work commute. The fact time plays such a significant part when I compare Aloha to time travel with a speeding DeLorean or Superman spinning the planet to rehash the past. The curiosity on whether Silverado was more of a Clark Kent or a Marty McFly.
Or maybe I spend too much time with pop culture? Regardless, there’s that word again – time. Funny how that happens.
Bethany J. Royer-DeLong is a reporter for the Daily Advocate and Early Bird and a life-long resident of Darke County. She holds a bachelor’s degree in work psychology and a master’s degree in organizational leadership because she’s a sucker for all things jobs. You may reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.