There is a dichotomy to the way our personality changes as we mature. On the one hand, I don’t give a fuck about things I used to stress about – such as my appearance and toxic friends – and on the other hand, stuff that used to seem trivial can wind me up like a clockwork toy.
There are so many things I’ve succumbed to with age, that I swore I’d never do when I was young.
I feel quasi-maternal when I look at gardens. I felt a visceral sense of disappointment by the dead lawn that we inherited with this new house, whereas in the old days I would have been grateful that it required no love. I’m never going to go full batshit green-craziness and grow herbs and vegetables because I hate worms, but you’ll catch me risk a full blown mozzie attack to water the grass at night in a vain attempt to motivate those dead blades back to life. I pause to appreciate pretty flowers in the street too, and feel awed by their beauty and creation.
I hate noise. I turn down the volume on everything in the house – usually very angrily – from the ridiculous level of the television to Kurt’s music. If I could, I would turn down the volume on the smoothie maker and the drier. I have also hidden all the Princess’s balls that squeak. But the absolute worst offender is the fridge that beeps when the door is left open that the old man chose either to torment me or to remind me that life isn’t perfect. If it wasn’t for the fact that it keeps my wine cold, I could come close to assisted dying with that white piece of shit.
I like walking. I walk all the time and kid myself that it counts as exercise; the irony being that I’m not actually walking for the exercise, I’m walking because I actually like it. I put the world to rights when I walk and have even been known to have a smile on my face on a hill.
I hate people. The old man and I go out early in the evening to avoid the crowds and we sit as far away from the ‘family’ section as possible because the sound of kids crying over the shape of their chicken nuggets can send me into a frenzy. I’ve got the tee-shirt for that type of shit. I think I want to go to the pub for some atmosphere but it’s slowly dawning on me that I don’t actually like atmosphere.
My latent maternal instinct is brought out by cute animals. Whereas my natural response these days to images of small children is to hyperventilate from the relief that those days are over, my heart melts at the sight of pictures and videos of cute animals. If I got paid an hourly rate for Internet research on cute animal videos, I could retire right now. There is nothing better than baby hedgehogs sleeping in egg boxes.
I become an hormonal mess when I read inspirational quotes and memes, hence my Pinterest addiction. I understand perfectly now why old people think that those kitsch birthday cards – the type our grandparents used to send us that had kittens and ribbons and baskets of flowers on the front and vomit poetry inside – made sense to them.
I wear nightwear. Not hospital nightwear, but enough coverage so I don’t feel as exposed and vulnerable as when I’m naked. Co-habitation with over-honest teenagers in the house with no understanding of privacy or ageing skin may have something to do with it. I could equally blame the unrealistic expectations set by women’s magazines, but it’s probably more about cake. When the old man cuddles me when I’m on my side in bed I tuck my tummy in my granny knickers and breathe in. Interestingly, he feels no compulsion to tuck in his… tummy.
I find comfort in order and routine. It annoys me when things aren’t put away, bins aren’t emptied, hairs accumulate on the bathroom floor and the kids think it’s acceptable to leave their dishes on the side because the dishwasher needs emptying. I would book my holidays a year ahead if the old man wasn’t so convinced we will be living on the streets within the next six months and I could eat the same seven meals each week. I’m not socially impulsive because I take great pleasure in looking at my diary and working up my excitement to upcoming events that have been planned for months. A weekend with no plans sends me into mental free fall with the same certainty as someone inviting me out of the blue on a week-night.
New technology scares TF out of me. I freeze with the fear of ignorance when placed in front of a new computer which is why I would choose to live on the streets rather than ever get another job where the twenty-something receptionist has to tell me how to switch my computer on. Luckily I have Kurt’s number on speed dial and that sense of security is almost worth his sea-floor level of condescension.
I snack like an old person. I stuff my gob with healthier food options like fruit and nuts and crackers in between meals these days. Occasionally when I’m stressed or miss lunch, my heart rules my head like it did in the old days and I get through three chocolate bars, then I stick my photo of Elle McPherson back on the fridge door and self-flagellate.
My new hobby is the state of my health. The old man and I discuss our health all the time and our first conversation of the day always relates to which stage of dying we are at with our ‘current ailments.’ There are four stages: worrying symptoms, anxiety, doctor and certain death. I have glue ear at the moment – the curse of the elite swimmer – and I’m teetering between ‘do I need to go to the doctor?’ which would make my ailment real and the fear that a visit will upgrade my hypochondriac label.
I drink tea. Lots of it. I would drink the healthy, fruity shit if it didn’t make me wee all night.
I‘m considering a faith. I’ve been thinking a lot about God and whether it’s time to work on the ‘goodness’ part of my personality.
What do you do that gives your age away?