To say I had felt completely indifferent to my 19th birthday when it came and went over a month ago would have been an understatement. To tell the truth I almost completely forgot about it, which sums up my attitude towards it almost as much as the fact I asked my sister for a basket of M&S tinned curries. In my view it meant nothing, just that I would be one year older than the last time….Right?… WRONG!
Suddenly the other day I was struck with the horrific realization that I appear to have aged about 40 years in the last four months (for which I blame university entirely), skipping, from the age of 18, straight past 19 and crash landing in the late 50’s. The event that sparked this enlightening moment of self-understanding was the Courtney Barnett show I went to see earlier this December.
For those of you who don’t know Courtney Barnett (of which I am a big fan), she is an amazing guitarist/singer/songwriter who rambles dry, witty lyrics over what I would describe as melodic grunge music.
The first clue I received of my recent leap towards dinner parties, BBC 4 documentaries and the grave was when halfway to the venue I realized that I, in my newly found senility, had forgotten my ticket. Almost an hour later of riding the same bus the whole way around its circular route I arrived at the gig. I had missed the support band but for this I was grateful as it meant I’d have to spend less time standing around and standing is an exhausting activity!
Upon entering I saw the entire crowd was aged somewhere between 30 and 50 (I suppose Barnett doesn’t particularly appeal to the Grime-loving, pill-popping, edgy youth of Bristol) which was a completely new experience for me. I bought a drink and took my place at the back of the overfilled venue, and patiently waited for the band. Yes I know what your thinking, I am now one of those weird, sad individuals who will sometimes go to gigs on my own (I must be becoming reclusive in my old age).
Eventually the band came onto the stage and proceeded to play every song as if it was the last they would ever play. Barnett commanded the stage, oozing presence and playing guitar like a true rock star. The band as a whole made their skill and accuracy look effortless, giving every song bite and impact which forbade your attention from drifting away from the music for even a second. One thing was clear! To them a live show is a show!
I loved it! I also loved being able to stand at the back and appreciate the whole thing with my eyes and ears while not moving a muscle. Not long ago this would have seemed like a revolting possibility to me. The idea of going to a gig and not jumping around in the moshpits until I’m dripping with sweat would have been insane. Recently though I just can’t find the energy and it doesn’t appeal to me so much anymore. Whenever a moshpit opens up now I groan internally before bowing to the social pressure, jumping in and pretending to enjoy it. Furthermore, I now frequently find others gig goers irritating inconveniences who get in my way and make me grumpy. I was beyond relieved to find the audience here weren’t the moshing type and it was that thought which made me realize I’m becoming more like my dad with every passing second. Eventually the shock of how at home I felt in this sea of middle aged people wore off and became shameless acceptance.
How boring I have really become is only truly seen when I talk to people about festivals. I’m not a festival veteran but have been to Download, Reading and Boomtown and have had some amazing experiences that I will reminisce fondly about for years to come. Festivals are great fun, although I’m not a teenager anymore (well.. y’know what I mean) and I can’t be dealing with a whole non-stop weekend of traveling, dancing, drinking, hangovers, not sleeping, leaky tents and feeling grimy. When I’m down the pub with my quiz mates, who are all mostly in their mid 30’s, some of them talk about how they go to Download every year and I just think to myself “I’m too old for that shit!”, even though I’m fully aware that biologically I’m supposed to be in my prime.
It’s not just gigs but in all aspects of my life I am seeing this. Clubbing is slowly becoming a chore which merely keeps me from my bed for way too long and becomes a little more disappointing each time. I would rather be wrapped up in my covers playing Tomb Raider, watching Scrubs and eating chocolate. I honestly now get more excited about going to expert talks, than I do about absinthe shots and rock nights.
Once I had realized my true internal age, more evidence became immediately obvious, like how I played dodge ball for only a couple of hours the other day and managed to cripple myself for over a week. I genuinely lost the ability to obtain items from low cupboards and had to lower myself onto the toilet using the towel rail. I have never empathized with my Nan more.
Other signs of the wrinkly old man living inside my youthful, sexy body, apart from the permanent exhaustion, are the fact my bladder seems to have developed the stamina of an asthmatic sloth, the fact I’ve become content to be average and not “reach for my dreams” as I’m too lazy to even reach for anything beyond an arms length from my bed, and the fact I have decided I can’t be bothered to follow politics or world affairs anymore and want to just mindlessly agree with my preferred party instead as forming my own opinion takes far to much emotional energy.
So I’ve grown up a lot at uni, just not how I thought I would. What I expected was a higher level of cognitive understanding and the ability to lead my life in an independent and responsible manner, not the inability to do more than two things without needing a nap in-between. If I aged this much in four months I’m dreading what the next 60 years will do to me!
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