As I get older and move from one generation to the next, I feel more and more abstract about myself.
I know how old my daughter is. Giving birth over 20 summers ago puts the years into context.
I know my body is showing signs of wear and tear – the sagging bottom that will soon reach the backs of my knees (when I will, for the first time in life, have a flat bottom, albeit a very long one, and not one that sticks out behind me); the knees and other joints that creak (if I learn to move them in the right order, I could probably play a percussion symphony); the age spots that have taken over from my freckles (but where freckles were distinct as if painted on carefully and cute, these are blotchy and random as if someone has shaken out a dirty paintbrush); the hair that is going from grey to silver to white (but only at the top as the ends of my long hair stubbornly cling to colour which makes it look like I have tram lines when no henna has touched my head for years and years).
I know my behaviour is increasingly grumpy-old-woman – intolerances have gone from mild feelings of irritation to full-blown allergies against idiots, dimwits and ignoramuses, cold-callers, charity bags through the door, politicians with different views to mine, chuggers, telephones, rudeness, traffic and parking, noise, shoes, and cheap shops that sell poor quality, to name but a few.
I know that when I open my mouth, increasingly my elders come out of it – ‘in my day…’, ‘just wait until you’re my age…’, ‘when I was young(er) / your age / at school…’, ‘young people of today…’.
Yet, in my mind, certain elements of life have stood still. Expectations and frameworks have not updated themselves.
Researching a character, this became really obvious the other day. I wanted to introduce a grandparent into the story, so I expected so create someone who was born before the war, would be able to tell stories about rationing and hardship, but when I counted back, I realised that they must have been born in the fifties or even the sixties.
That’s my own generation!
And I had to acknowledge that a character who could be my grandparent cannot be a contemporary grandparent.
But, how can I make a grandparent old when they are my age and I do not feel ancient, over the hill, on the scrapheap, closer to the end than the beginning?
In my head, I’m still young, I still have so much to do and to experience. I do not identify with the people my age in adverts for products and services aimed at my demographic.
What my head knows about my age does not correlate with what my emotions feel about it.
So here I am, standing on the edge of my own generation chasm.