The real Age of Aquarius

Aine McCarthy

It took a while, but the last of the X-Generation’s children have finally taken the leap into adulthood. The delay in commemorating this is rather fitting, though.

Of the X’s many traits, procrastination is high on the list. We’re also predisposed to be pessimistic, nihilistic and cynical.

Our lack of trust in traditional values had dubbed us to be a sorry bunch of misfits who worried the hell out of our parents, the Baby Boomers

In the ’90s, we were portrayed as a group of flannel-wearing, alienated, underachieving slackers with body piercings. In the ‘00s, we ditched the flannel and took up technology as a quasi-embrace for our future. Some of us even ditched cigarettes…for a spell.

With all of that to sum up my younger years and my aging personality, I wonder what category I’ve fallen into now. As a divorced, agnostic, politically-teetering, college-returning rug rat, where do I go from here?

I’m at the end of X, the beginning of MTV, and just before Y. I’m starting to feel like an acronym for aged cheese.

It’s a strange thing to be shuffled into a new age box. I’d been in the ‘18-29’ box for, well, 11 years, and had grown quite comfortable there. I was still in an age-sphere where I was expected to get completely smashed, but still pay my bills.

Immaturity today, responsibility later. But now, with over three decades behind me, I’m no longer a “young adult.” Now, I look for wrinkles and gray hair. I’ve got a few laugh lines and my metabolism has slowed to a dull vibration.

Being the perpetual mouse in the exercise wheel, and staying up for 24 hours isn’t the easy thrill it used to be. And coffee? Without it, I become a rampaging banshee, smiting any who dare interact with me before I down a cup or two of this necessary libation into my gullet.

I don’t even have fun doing the things I used to love doing. Before, any extended outdoor activity, like festivals or camping, was a chance to relax, mingle, and just have a good time.

Now, I cringe at the notion of outdoor ‘facilities’; anything without plumbing and four walls is a taxing endeavor. Clubbing in Philadelphia, partying in Atlantic City, raving in Portland? The young people are everywhere!

And they’re loud, inconsiderate and so vapid inside their little bubbles. Social pariah I am not, but at least wallflowers have their space.

And the music that’s played now, I just don’t understand it. Stores, coffee houses, even offices are embracing this mix of juxtaposing genres.

It’s like listening to a combination of ‘No Diggity’ and the Mortal Kombat theme song as the backdrop to an auto-tuned female voice. Scary, isn’t it, to know that the Baby Boomers reacted much the same way.

So, I’m left wondering: Since my ‘you damn kids’ mentality is slowly progressing to a full-tilt lawn warfare, should I aspire to be a fine wine of maturity instead of cheese? Maybe it’s time for me to ditch the rental, settle into that bi-level on a quiet street, and start cranking out my 2.5 kids.

Does this mean I need to buy a minivan or some dreadful, yet safe and practical, sedan? Will smooth jazz be a preset station on my radio? Does anyone even find music on the radio anymore?

In earnest, I sometimes feel the need to do things that would make me feel younger or, at least, make me feel how I used to when I was. I still listen to my ‘old’ CDs (yes, those things) of Nine Inch Nails and Tool, and – without fail – I always feel a little nostalgic.

It’s no secret that music carries with it periods of time, memories and situations. Knowing this, I still enjoy every song, and I’m still transported back somewhere when one of those tracks was played for a reason.

And then I regard myself differently in the mirror. I sure as hell don’t dress the same, or wear my hair the same way, or even speak with my former, sophomoric cadences, full of ditzy hubris.

Yet, what could possibly benefit me by rummaging through my closet and pulling on an old flannel shirt or my beat-up Vans?

And to think I used to look at those 30-somethings who still went to raves and dated barely-legals as pathetic. Perhaps they were merely trying to regain their “old” selves through the energy and vibrations of the 18-29 boxers.

At 16, I couldn’t wait to be 17 so I could get my license. Then came the wonderful age of 18! After that, I had to wade through those three limbo years before I conquered 21: The age of legal inebriation.

Then, finally came the age of 25 where car insurance rates dropped! Now I’m an adult with no more ages to wait for. Today, I’m looking back on all those damn years I spent looking forward. What the hell was so great about 18 anyway?

I could vote and I could drive, but no one took me seriously. I thought I knew everything and, actually, I was so damn daft. And, unlike my sister of the Boomerang Generation, I couldn’t wait to get out on my own and do everything that I thought I had to do. In the end, my greatest accomplishment was staying out of jail.

Older people say you’re only as old as you feel. Younger people say you’re only as old as you look. My parents used to say that I was only as old as I acted. I feel old, look young, and act differently day to day.

I enjoy talking to people older than I am. I have a hard time identifying with people younger than I am. And most people my age have already fully embraced their new age-bracket with all the responsibilities it entails.

In hindsight, my age fetish is a big waste of time. Obviously, I’m no closer to finding Ponce de Leon or his Fountain of Youth. Wrinkles and grays are just proof of life. And maturity? Well, like a fine wine, it always tastes better with some good cheese, anyway.