There are things you could do at 18 that are frankly not recommended for those in the autumnal days of their years on Earth.
Like putting your ankles behind your head. Not, to be honest, that I could do that at 18, but I feel that if I’d had a burning desire to do so, I would’ve limbered up in the training department and could have achieved that goal if I’d really wanted to. Now I consider myself horribly lucky if I can get my ankle to rest languidly on my opposing knee without adopting a very pained expression.
At 18 I couldn’t wait to spread my wings and beg the use of mum’s trusty Torana – four on the floor manual, don’t you know, and I would zip around Sydney just because I could, double de-clutching through the suburbs. Now I find myself putting off going to the store just so I don’t have to go out at all.
At 18 – as it’s legal in Australia to do so at that age – I could get quite merrily smashed and feel absolutely fabulous in the morning. I used to have an extremely handy inner safety valve where I knew if my eyes went out of focus, I’d had enough to drink. Now I can have one for the road and feel the next morning like I was left out on the road, a mere smear of myself, on the shoulder for some lucky hillbilly to let out a yee-haw and scape me off the Macadam and throw me in the pot for dinner.
And now I’ve arrived at another crummy piece of self-awareness.
I’m learning to really hate to travel. At 18 you could put me on a 36-hour flight to Paris and I was happy as a clam. As an aside, I’m not sure who decided clams could be happy – but I was one satisfied mollusk, let me tell you.
Now a three-hour hop to California fills me with the blahs.
We very recently took a trip out west to visit our magnificent 91-year old aunt – Boston Lil – in sunny Palm Desert, and Sir had organized the flights, achieving greatness in the thriftiness of his task. Two round-trip tickets to San Diego for $350 all up was not to be sneezed at.
The problem was, as I rose on Wednesday at 5.30 as usual the morning of our trip, our plane didn’t leave Kansas City until 9 that night. Add a three-hour flight and then a two and a half-hour drive into the high desert. It didn’t matter that we gained two hours by changing time zones. It was 5.30 a.m. Kansas City time by the time we got to bed.
Coming home wasn’t much better, hitting the sheets at 3.30 a.m. on the Monday morning.
I felt like the aforementioned road kill for a day after each trip, rather negating the beneficial effects of a mini-vacation.
I remember, back when I was 18, going to a mid-week party – because I could and it wasn’t a school night – getting to bed at 5.30, jumping back up at 7 and fronting up for jury duty at 9.
Those were the days, my friend – we thought they’d never end.
Annie Dear lives in Lee’s Summit. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.