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Retaining Youth

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These days, I'm mourning the loss of my childhood.

Dr. Sophia Grant: I found my retainer the other day. It still fits. I was happy to clip it in my mouth, really proud that something still fits after all these years. My retainer is older than most of the NBA players and Hollywood starlets. I've been wearing it at night, just like the old days. My husband, a dentist, has asked me why. "I don't know, I guess it makes me feel young," I told him. I have never been one to chase my youth, and I found it puzzling.

Then it dawned on me. With the death of two icons from my childhood, I feel old. It's not my-aching-back old, but more like nobody-knows-the trouble-I've-seen old. I can't quite put my finger on it, but I seem to be in a cloud of sadness. Not because I am grief-stricken, but more because I am mourning the loss of my youth. I haven't been young for a long time, but I foolishly thought I would maintain that same fun-loving spirit that I had years ago.

Maybe that's just hard to maintain. Maybe 40+-year-olds with that attitude are not happy-go-lucky, but irresponsible. Either way, I am in new territory. I thought I would feel wise at this stage. I don't. I feel like everybody else: playing it by ear and trying to do the best I can. Maybe in 30 years, I'll have some sagacity to impart.

My retainer takes me back to the 80s, when I had never personally experienced death and disappointment. I was still carefree. My wedding was planned in my head, and yes, baby names were selected. It feels good to remember that time.

I know that this sadness will pass. Until then, I'll try not to be so bogged down by life's circumstances, and I'll have the added bonus of straighter teeth.

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3 comments so far | Post a comment now
Gail Cooke July 7, 2009, 6:53 PM

I’m sorry you’re taking it so personally…honestly though, you have to roll with the punches. Just know it’s your attitude towards the future is what matters…if you think you’re old, you’re destined to be unhappy and unproductive and fun impaired…I don’t think I’ve lost my “fun loving” ways…I’m about your age and honestly..I just feel like me..I don’t mourn the fact that I used to be younger and more “stupid” (said as in less experience in the world and less able to make good decisions). I actually celebrate the fact that I’ve survived 39 years…many many people haven’t. You’re life is about as fun as you make it I’m finding.

Rachelle July 8, 2009, 2:30 AM

I do understand how the author feels. I said the same thing just last week. Pieces of our childhood are disappearing. It does make you nostalgic for the old days when things seemed simpler. I don’t know of ANYone who could possibly go through their whole life without once, thinking of, and missing the past.

dee July 8, 2009, 10:42 AM

i too feel sad at the passing of icons from days gone by, but i feel sad that they no longer have the happiness of being alive as we still are. i am sure you have much wisdom to share because you are wise enough to recognize that you are not all-wise. i’m still fun-loving, not so wise, very responsible and 57!

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