Iâ€™m getting old.
Last week, my freshman cousin swiped me into the Academic Village dining hall for dinner with her and her freshmen friends. As I sat and listened to their conversation about all things new in the college world, I couldnâ€™t help but feel lost and a little out of place.
I tried to interject myself into their conversations on a couple of occasions, but I got the feeling that to them, I was little more than an old man with too many boring stories about walking to class 40 miles in the snow, uphill both ways.
Contrasted with their bright, freshmen eyes and eager, freshmen faces, I must have looked a little worn and haggard, especially given my unkempt half-beard, so I gave up and chatted with my cousin, trying to stave off the chilly, old feeling creeping through my senior veins.
Now, before all you graduate students, graduates and octogenarians out there point out that Iâ€™m only 21 and have years and years and years and years and years ahead of me, let me head you off.
Yeah, so compared to you Iâ€™m young. But just like you, Iâ€™m not getting any younger, and the oldness infecting our bodies is only going to get worse. Yeah, so you might be older than me, but all that means is youâ€™re probably going to die first.
Aging is a terminal disease. Like a malignant cancer, age metastasizes to your heart, your immune system and your brain, breaking you down and bringing you to your knees before snuffing you out.
Thereâ€™s no cure and thereâ€™s no prevention, just inevitability.
I spent some time looking back on my life this weekend, and I tried to figure out exactly when I started getting old.
Was it when I turned 18 and became an adult, wide-eyed and college-bound, unaware of the gloomy future that awaited me my senior year and beyond? Was it when I was 16 and first starting to drive, wreck cars and frolic with my dumb, invincible high-school friends? Or maybe when I turned 10 and did whatever it was I did when I was 10?
Meh, I canâ€™t put my finger on it.
Just a year ago I could hit my friendâ€™s couch somewhere between 4 and 6 a.m. and still make it to my 9 a.m. class bleary eyed, but alive. Now if stay up past 3 a.m., the odds of seeing me the next day are slim to none, and the odds that I might actually die from lack of sleep keep going up.
Not to mention that my back aches when the weather changes, I feel like my teeth might start falling out at any instant and I try to talk to freshmen about the good olâ€™ days while they just nod and smile.
Oh boy the next 20-to-60 years are going to be rough.
It wouldnâ€™t be so bad if I didnâ€™t know what my aging future held. But like an oracle into my future, Iâ€™ve gotten to watch my friends graduate and head out into the real world of 9-to-5 cubicle enslavement, married-life enslavement, in-bed-before-11 enslavement and depending-on-Depends enslavement.
Iâ€™m not even out of college, and Iâ€™ve started to fall into that pattern.
Iâ€™m a monkey in gym shorts, beating my head against a keyboard in a fluorescent cell in the Lory Student Center basement, vomiting my wordy drivel on a screen so people can pretend theyâ€™re interested in what I say. I wake up. I go to school. I go to work. I write. I read. I leave. I cook dinner. I watch a quarter of a football game. I go to sleep. I wake up. I put on my gym shorts. I beat my head against a keyboard in a fluorescent cell.
Rinse. Repeat. Get older; get slower; forget how to walk; forget how to write; forget how to eat.
Maybe Iâ€™m just being a pessimist. Maybe itâ€™s Monday afternoon, and Iâ€™ve already spent too much time in the Ramskeller playing pool by myself. Maybe Iâ€™m dead-on right.
But right or wrong, pessimistic or just tipsy, it doesnâ€™t matter. Iâ€™m getting older, and so are you. I would tell freshmen to savor college, but they wonâ€™t. Someday my cousinâ€™s friends can sit next to me in a nursing home while somebody feeds us yogurt through a tube, and we can swap stories about the college days and how fast they went by.
That is if I donâ€™t die first.
Editorials Editor Jim Sojourner is a senior journalism major. His column appears Tuesdays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.