A word that has always made me think of cattle. Some how, some way, it now describes me as I sit here, freshly showered (a great way to cleanse myself of a day at the office), adorned in leggings and a cardigan, easy gliding with my feet propped, ready to start the evening, or at least write about it. I came home from work today with my mental To-Do list in tow. I walked the dog as I planned dinner and the activities that I ought to commence before or immediately thereafter: put dishes away (check!), practice yoga, put laundry away, bake bread pudding-to-rid-yourself-of-aging-bread, and so on and so forth. Even a year ago, my evening agenda looked incredibly different. How did I go from a spontaneous dance-party-seeking adventurer to the slipper wearing, yoga-smitten, homebody that I’ve now become?
I have never been a great partier. Perhaps that’s why I postponed my initiation into drinking until the age of 18, while many of my peers had years of boozing under their belts. I grew up in a dry household, which probably didn’t help. Wild nights weren’t modeled for me. Staying home and sitting around the dinner table was.
I had my Wild College Years, as so many of us do. I remember how somehow during my freshman year, the “weekend” would start on Sunday and how by Thursday I was so burnt out and physically exhausted that I had to stay in and rest up for a weekend of work and studying. I managed to maintain and interest in going out through grad school. Looking back, I hypothesize that the stress led me to it. That reading 200+ pages a week lends itself to raucous Thursday night outings and 4am gay bars (I was in Chicago, after all). After grad school, something started to shift. Perhaps it kicked off by my six-month stint living back at home with my cat, feeling badly about myself and working at my high school retail gig. Living in Swanton, Ohio past the age of 18 is not conducive to having a social life. I am certain of this.
Drinking and nesting are by no means counter indicative, of course. Plenty of people stay home, drink, and get silly. I have partaken in numerous living room dance parties that have stemmed from the most modest affairs, yet my aim here is to somehow re-trace my path from having lots and lots of “fun,” out, socially, to being here– where I sit, contentedly, with no social plans for the next three nights and a stack of W-2s that I’m far too eager to get my hands on.
The answer is this: I. Got. Old.
I smile as I type this, because I am, in fact, the ripe age of twenty-nine. Dirty thirty has yet to take a hold of me with its thick calloused claws and, really, beside my ever-graying hair, strangers seem in disbelief that I’m a day over twenty-three.
Yoga is most certainly one of the culprits of this developing domestication. My practice has aged with me over these past few years. It’s somehow grown from a wee bud of a hobby into a generous blossom of a practice that is my identity, my spirituality, my clarity, and my light. Yoga is also my health, both mental and physical. And it is a killer on the nightlife, to say the least. Show me a yogi with a daily practice who feels inspired my sleep deprivation and a hangover and I’ll show you my false left butt cheek.
So, that’s part of it, I think, as I sit in a too-dark (now that the sun has set) room, wishing I had reading glasses or at least a headlamp. It is also this aging process–not of the “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” variety—but just in the way that this body I inhabit has begun to feel worn. I am aware of its limits and what seems to await it. This domestication is also, undeniably, the side effect of a biological clock that is tick-tick-ticking. It is the warmth and security of a loving, supportive partnership. Of a shared home that brings me comfort. Is it the result of day-after-day of tiring work, whether I’m in a field or stuck in a chair.
Often enough, I miss being able to stay up late. I wonder what I’m missing at a friend’s rock show or at the party that I left at eleven. I reminisce over about nights spent dancing for hours or out on the town. I laugh at myself as I recall, fondly, times in which I had far too much to drink and ended up lying in the neighbor’s bushes or wrestling with a friend. I wish, sometimes, that I didn’t tire out so quickly after the sun sets. That I could loosen up, let go, finish a second drink and think not about the consequences (whether it be a headache or a loss of precious sleep). Alas, I cannot.
I am twenty-nine going on fifty. I am a veteran farm hand that can’t ditch the memory of exhaustion so compelling that cereal sounds like an arduous dinner option and reading feels like a chore. I am a health nut and a stay-at-home girlfriend. I am a yogi and a crafter. An adoptive dog mom and a woman who is (suddenly) elated to have a few incredible friends to focus on instead of hoards of acquaintances that used to cloud her periphery. Still, knowing all of this, and even feeling a certain degree of gratitude for life and all of its transitions, I sometimes can’t help but look in the mirror and imagine for moment that I’ve got “Lame-O” scrawled across my forehead.