I’m not a terribly sentimental person, as any of my Dear Readers who are also Close Friends can tell you. In fact, during a discussion a few weeks ago, one of my Close Friends said, “RW, if you were a character on the the ‘Big Bang Theory’ you’d be Sheldon, except that you’re not that bright.” Everyone present had a good chuckle that quickly turned to awkward silence when they realized that this was painfully accurate.
Even so, I am occasionally overcome by random events. This morning as I sat down to continue my Sisyphean efforts at grading all my students’ papers, Rusted Root’s “Send Me On My Way” started playing. It’s not a fantastic song, but it was popular almost 20 years ago and I was instantly transported back to the Appalachian mountains of Pennsylvania.
Back then, no one even thought to add “Mr.” to my last name and my biggest decisions on any given day were:
- Should I wear my green flannel or my red one?
- Is it too cold to wear the jeans with the hole in the knee?
- Is it nice enough today to justify cutting class to go on a hike?
- Where is the keg party tonight?
Back then, I knew two things.
- I was NEVER going to teach in a classroom.
- It would definitely be a good idea if I didn’t have any children.
Let that be a cautionary tale about making positive statements about your life when you’re 19. (In case you’re still wondering, I have worked in public education for 15 years now, and the Hobbit, Gnome, and Barbaloot are all still alive and reasonably healthy.)
Usually when such things occur to me I have found myself wishing for those ill-spent days of my youth. I would spend hours waxing rhapsodic about how cool college was and how idealistic and energetic I used to be and what a shame it is that I’ve sunk into the bitter depression of middle age.
This time however, I just couldn’t summon the nostalgia. Thinking about college made me laugh at how silly it all was. Thinking about keg parties I thought, “I can’t believe that I didn’t even start thinking about going until 9 pm. That’s really close to bedtime.” Reminiscing about skipping class to go hiking I thought, “I really wish I had applied myself more, I probably would have learned quite a bit.”
Yes, it’s a sad day when you realize that not only have you accepted that you’ve grown older, but that you’ve finally embraced the concept. Probably this time next year, I’ll be looking forward to the Early Bird Special and chastising juvenile delinquents for not taking life more seriously. This actually reminds me of another earworm that was popular “back in the day.”
Just kidding, that song still makes my teeth hurt. But now it’s stuck in your head all day. You’re welcome.