It’s April, my birthday month, which is also the start of a marathon mind fuck surrounding things like mortality and the afterlife and if Hunger Games time will come before or after I am gone.
Lately, I feel like it will be sooner, which is unfortunate because I have very few survival skills, but I’m taking a probiotic now, so maybe that will all turn around for me?
I’ve also been spending a lot of time thinking about my age, and the uptick in instances I’ve felt old.
You’d think it’d be like when I receive an AARP magazine in the mail or asshole calls me ma’am while I’m buying frosting and panty liners alone at 3pm on a Tuesday, but no. Those are the times I’m like, fuck it, I’m 36 years old, I do what I want, and if I want to sit in my underwear eating frosting with a spoon and reading about how Jamie Lee Curtis deals with menopause, I will.
Instead, the old feeling happens when I think I’m actually a totally cool young person.
A few weeks ago, we took the kids to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and after a day of schlepping them on rides and through stage shows, Jude finally wore me down with his incessant campaign to ride Kali River Rapids.
I don’t understand the appeal of getting soaked at a theme park, but I’ve always been this person. The don’t get me wet person. I’m like a chubby gremlin.
All summer my high school classmates would head to Cedar Point and scream in delight as they spun around in the giant rapids of Thunder Canyon, under huge waterfalls and water spouts, the winner of the day being the one who got the most soaked.
I was the person holding everyone’s beepers and mini backpacks on the bridge.
It’s wasn’t an aversion to fun, it was an aversion to jean short induced thigh chaffing and open mouthing recycled e-coli water.
“Don’t you remember what it’s like to have fun?” Jude asked for the fiftieth time.
“You have literally no basis of argument, you’ve never even been on a water ride before, you have no idea if you’re even missing anything besides bacteria induced diarrhea, not to mention, walking around in wet clothes is terrible.”
“What’s terrible about it?” He asks me with his mile wide thigh gap and no threat of yeast infection. “It can be a really cool thing we do together, like friends.”
And that’s how I ended up in a 45 minute line to board a water ride, after spending $18 on a poncho and losing three consecutive games of paper rock scissors with Andy, who was waiting for us near the exit probably eating a churro with his smug stupid face and dry underwear.
I am hyper aware my time with Jude adoring me is fleeting, I mean, he’s 11 and still holds my hand in public, so I am already working on borrowed time.
We were in line behind a group of five teens, and I spent a lot of time pretending I wasn’t paying attention to them and focusing on the people deboarding the ride.
How wet did they look?
Hard to tell. Lots of dry people, and then suddenly a few who looked like they just climbed out of a blow hole.
Twenty minutes into our wait, one of the girls in front of us pulled a poncho out of her cross body bag. This was my in.
“Have you ridden this before?” I asked.
“Yeah.” She answered, not even looking at me.
“So, do you get super wet then?”
“Sometimes.” She shrugged.
Clearly, she didn’t want to be best friends with me, and yet, I could not shut up.
“Okay cool, I wasn’t sure if I was going to look a little too extra wearing a poncho, you know?” Awkward giggle.
And then she smiled at me before turning toward her friends making, what I assume to be, a big giant “yikes this old person tho” face.
I wanted to keep going with her. I wanted to explain to her that I know who Zedd is, and could correctly use words like fam and thirsty in sentences.
I’m not a regular mom, I’m probably just babysitting all these kids I’m with. Look at all the hashtags I know, fellow youths!
This was my talent. I can find myself in situations surrounded by women I don’t know, and disarm and befriend them with girlfriend banter. Making an incontinence joke at gymnastics, or commiserating in line at the grossness of the soccer field port-a-potty, or listening for people to exit their dressing rooms to brave the big communal mirror and then telling them how amazing they looked; this was how I found my people.
I’d feel desperate about the whole thing, but it’s honestly how I’ve met some of my now-close friends.
But the thing is, it’s working less and less with young people.
I’d say it’s because they are still young and the urgency in assembling a tribe to eat your feelings with and compare dermatologist biopsy results with just isn’t there, but I was like this as a teen, too.
I have always been too eager to connect, and you either smell it on me and think I’m a creep, or you smell it on me and think, me too, future best friend.
I felt so very old in that line.
As we moved closer to the ride, the girl in front of me unfolded her poncho, and began meticulously wrapping it around her iPhone.
She didn’t care if she got wet, she cared if her phone got wet.
I stuffed my iPhone in my bra and pulled my poncho over my head and smoother it down below my cropped yoga leggings.
I’m not looking for wet friends, I decided.
And I turned around and smiled at the tired looking dad in the poncho behind me.
“How wet do you think we’re gonna get on this?” He asked, frowning.
“Ugh,” I grimaced. “I have no idea.”
“We better get soaked, I just emptied my kids’ college funds for this poncho.” He snarked, leaning up against the cement half wall beside me.
Me too, future best friend.