Neither Old Nor Young

The other afternoon on vacation we wound up at a café in downtown Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. It was the day before the hurricane was set to strike and I really wanted some fresh air. I was in the middle of a country-type meltdown and warned my husband ‘I had to get out of the house that minute’. I recognized that familiar creeping sadness feeling that day. The skies were gray, no one wanted to leave the house but me, but every noise was grating on my nerves. The temperature was all wrong, the lighting too harsh, and so, we left. Lewisburg is one of my favorite little towns in Central PA. It’s a college town and something about being surrounded by other young people revives me. It was fun to sit in the café and watch all the young freshman and sophomores come in, some upper classmen and teachers as well. They were stressing out about classes, in that way that seems really cute and trivial now. There was a lot of “OMIGOD” and “NO WAY” and cursing and flirting; it was beautiful. I love to watch the young relationships. They seem so awkward, unsure whether to hold hands over breakfast. You can tell the ones that had sex the night before (or even that morning) were a bit chummier with each other, sitting on the same side of the table, whispering inside jokes, her hand on his thigh, his behind her back, tickling her long hair.

It was so refreshing after being surrounded by my in-laws all weekend. My husband is seven years older than I am, and he’s the younger sibling, so that makes most of his family a full decade ahead of me in life. I often feel out of place, in more than just pop culture references, although those happen too. Sometimes it leaves me with the feeling of “I shouldn’t be here”. That somehow there is this magical land of cool twenty-somethings (Brooklyn maybe?) that I should be with. My people. Instead, having kids so young and being married with a mortgage lumps me in with the elderly. I don’t fit in anywhere. Not with the old, and not with the young, but I recognize that they both have their advantages. I try to listen to my mother-in-law’s stories and marvel at how different things were for her, and I try to remember that I’m not doing so poorly. And I look at the college students, and while I envy their spontaneity, I don’t envy the drama and emotion. I remember those college heartbreaks, full of deep tears and jealousy and resentment. I rarely feel those types of emotions in that type of setting anymore. Instead I feel guilt and fear more often related to being a mother. Guilt that I am doing it all wrong, and fear that it will affect him forever.