November 20, 2008

How I became an adult...if ever I did

I'm not thirty three.

Not in my head.

I've read bits and bobs about the concept of self image, and I realize that everyone has an image of themselves in their head, a version of themselves frozen in time. I've no clue why we choose the version that we do - happiest time, most important time, most stressful time, self-loathing, self-love, whatever - but I do know that I am nowhere near the same age in my head as I am outside of it.

When I speak to myself in my head, I usually start the mental sentence with "ok, kid", and the flash of myself that I get is typically somewhere at Wabash (speaking of which, much sadness this weekend). There's been a lot of water under a lot of bridges since then, however, and I'm starting to think that my mental image is shifting a bit older.

The moment that it hit me was about a month ago, visiting a friend of mine (gotta get a nickname for him now that he doesn't live in my basement) and sitting on his back porch. It's a nice screened porch with a ceiling fan, and he's got a picnic table back there plus a decent glass-top table. I was sitting on the picnic table with my feet on the bench, and I had a pint glass in hand (water only, folks, I'm a fair lightweight). He came and sat down on the table as he waited for the grill to heat up, and I felt my self image jump a decade or so forward.

I have no idea why that image, that feeling jumped me forward, but it did. Maybe it was the concept of sitting around and drinking with friends - not because it's the weekend and we're drinking, not because we're in college so we're drinking, not because it's a party - just because we're guys sitting there having a drink and talking with our wives inside for the moment.

And it's been happening more and more at his house. See, he's got a kid.

He (seriously, need a nickname - something starting with The...maybe The Best Man, because he was mine...maybe The Don because he was in Aberdeen with me, and they're nicknamed the Dons...maybe The Zamboni because his last name's close to that...The Ice Man - going with the Zamboni reference...I'll think on things)...


He and his wife stayed with us through much of the summer of '07 and moved out in September, just a few weeks before The Junior Best Man (yeah, I think I'm going with it) came into the world. I've had a lot of friends have kids - CoachSullivan, Calen, ColdNorthGamer, a bunch more - some of whom I've been lucky enough to have met early in their lives. But all of them have been kids that I've known here and there on visits into town.

The Junior Best Man, however, is a kid that I'm getting to know through visits pretty much every week, sharing his first Christmas, his first Halloween, his christening, his development bit by bit. And I dig the kid. Maybe not for th first little bit - babies are pretty much lumps for their first while - but once a little personality started to develop.

And I find myself re-enacting photos that I remember my parents having around the house. There are photos of me as a baby being held by their friends, people who I came to know as friends of the family and who I have photographic evidence of them having known me pretty much from birth, the same way that I know The Junior Best Man. I find myself taking the parts of the young adults from those photos, first holding the kid tentatively then a little more confidently. Feeding him while the parents look on, hoping that I'm doing everything right.

It's an interesting place to be...enjoying the hell out of being the unrelated uncle but not wanting a kid of my own.

I think I might just be edging toward being an adult.


achilles3 said...

I think you want a lil chem guy.

joey said...

my version of myself changes a lot (as I'm sure it does for you too). Currently I'm the Scrooge McDuck "bah humbug snow sucks" type...

PHSChemGuy said...

I think I'm good without a lil ChemGuy, Lakes. It's going to be rewarding, however, to see the Junior Best Man grow up.

Joey...good luck on swimming through your money vault. I'm not sure my self image really does change very often. It's been somewhat steady - prior to the most recent jump - for a decade or so.