That’s a wallet I bought from Cuddle Formation. It’s pink and has stars. On the inside is scrawled “Balance: LOL” and “PIN: 6969420”. This is my wallet now. The one I use everyday to house my driver’s license and health insurance card and such is pink and has stars and says “Balance: LOL”. I threw away my brown leather wallet and transferred all of my identification and other personal effects into this wallet. I am almost 34 years old.
I have a problem where I forget just how old I am. This has been a long-standing issue where I don’t realize just how a person of my age and responsibilities should behave. In my teens, I still collected toys. In my twenties I worried and fretted about what people I went to high school thought about me. Now, I often forget that I am in my thirties with two kids and no job. Time just moves quicker than I realize.
Here is the thing about mental age: the rest of the world just keeps right on spinning. Time refuses to stand still, even if you do. People change and expect you to have done the same. People get older, sometimes they pass, and as you age you have to realize that more and more of the people you grew up with are gone, if not physically then they are different people than they were, and you probably should grow, too. Your possessions increase and so do your responsibilities, which then means that your possessions need to change to match your responsibilities and if you remain attached to things to showcase your youth while also trying to match your responsibilities you suddenly have a house full of crap you don’t really need. Even if you want to pretend you’re still 22, the rest of the world expects you to be 34. There are certain expectations of what a mid-thirties father should probably be. He should be working towards something, and should be well on his way to getting there. He should already have a moderate amount of success and should be parlaying that success into even more success so his family doesn’t have want or need.
That’s the dream, right? Or at least that’s my dream. To be as aged as the rest of the world sees me and needs me to be so my family can always be taken care of. I suppose the real dream is that the world just leaves me be and I can somehow co-exist with what I want to be and what I have to be to make sure my family is always taken care of, but the sad reality is that you need to have some sort of conformity. I need to give up the some of the trappings of youth and just get with the program. To grow and understand just what my position in life should be, but I often fall back into the trap of immaturity. I feel like once I realize that I am an adult and also how to be an adult I can then go be an adult.
It’s thoughts like that that lead you to going to shows with the fight of being in your thirties but wanting to behave like you’re in your mid-twenties. You overcompensate. You go with the thought that you can experience art, but you end up networking. You go with the idea that you can write things like:
“Cuddle Formation has a sound that differs from their band name. To me, I expected bouncy, peppy and happy. Maybe even cartoony. But it turns out it is weird, ambient and slightly dark. Also, beautiful as Cuddle Formation plays with noise, sound and light in a way that brings out a pulchritude that you wouldn’t expect. Maybe just an appreciation and joy of beauty that can bring people together. Maybe they’ll even embrace because of it. Huh, I guess Cuddle Formation is apt, afterall.”
And actually get swept up in that thought and not just write it. (It’s true, by the way.)
Instead, you spend a whole lot of time analyzing why you’re there and not trying to find a job and being insular when you should appreciate what you have in front of you. You end up envying Ramona Muse because of the freedom and confidence she exudes and then almost cursing her for the same things because you are no longer young and free and are super jealous. You end up missing a dynamic talent like Emily Reo so you can talk to someone who could potentially impact your career aspirations, whatever they may be. You worry that Tires is going to destroy your hearing instead of being excited that Tires is going to destroy your hearing (thanks to legendary and award-winning Iowa concert goer Andrew Smith for giving me an extra pair of ear plugs. They were needed.) You have constant internal debates as to whether the money for cover, beers and one accidental over-priced bourbon (C’mon, Bulliet is like the same price per bottle as Jameson, no way it should be four dollars more per glass) could’ve been better spent on things like toilet paper and applesauce. Then sometimes after consuming those drinks your brain revolts with this being old bullshit and you buy a pink wallet with cartoon stars. LOL.
It is the balance that needs to be achieved. Aging is fine, and should be understood and accepted, but not at a complete loss of what makes you you. If I could offer one piece of advice to a graduating class it would be, “Live in the now, appreciate the then and anticipate what will be.” But this mindset doesn’t happen immediately. It has to be developed, cultured and nurtured. If you push too quickly into it, you buy a wallet that is pink and has stars and says “6969420” instead of household goods so you can rage against what the world needs you to be in the silliest way possible.
I woke the next day completely embarrassed by my purchase, but I realize now that there has to be that balance. That I still have a little bit of that immaturity to me while trying to improve. So, I’m going to keep it as my wallet. I wanted that wallet, so I have that wallet. It will be my link to the past as I move toward the future. A reminder of the person I was and the person I am and the person I will be. I did end up scribbling over the inside stuff, because I am for sure too old to have a wallet that says “6969420”.