I am of an age where I have to explain to my first-year college students who Elian Gonzalez is and his significance (how, at a tender age, he represented our post-cold war anxiety, our xenophobia, our resistance to immigration and migration), where my Facebook feeds contain more photos of my middle-aged friends’ kids’ last day of Kindergarten than of our former boozy late nights, and where I learn, to my surprise, that Larry Clark’s “Kids” is twenty years old. My knees hurt, I go to sleep at 9, wake in the middle of the night, and worry incessantly about my mother’s failing health. All in the midst of slogging through the daily rituals of the paycheck, the rent payment, and perhaps eating a salad once in a while.
I shared a photo of me and Guy on the High Line the other day. One of my mentees wrote, “I swear y’all are aging younger.” Though this initially made me smile, I felt conflicted: Am I really middle aged? How did I get here?
Returning to grad school has put it all into perspective. Where I previously had existential worry, I am now occupied by my studies; where I used to lament my lack of ambition I now lament my lack of free time. This dissertation, after all, ain’t gonna write itself.