The mail store is busy and I don’t have much time. I’m hoping they have a computer that can read the contents of a CD I received in the mail yesterday. Honestly, who uses these ancient disks anymore.
Looking around it’s not clear who is next in line, or if there is a line. People stand over boxes organizing the contents, while others have their noses buried in their cell phones. I decide to take charge directing folks to available staff, and then I secure my own place in line. Waiting, I notice an older clerk. She chats with a young dad and his kids and offers friendly hellos to those who enter. As people leave she promises to meet up soon for coffee.
I write her story my head . . .
She’s a local, has lived in the neighborhood for years and raised her kids here. They’re grown now, went to great schools and have successful careers, married with kids even. She enjoys watching her grandchildren’s sporting events, power walking in Crystal Cove, and sometimes eats a late breakfast with girlfriends. She doesn’t need to work. She’s taken this job for fun, keeps her busy. Interrupting my thoughts she smiles and asks, “How can I help you sweetie?”
Pulling the CD out of my purse, I return the smile and ask, “Do you have a computer that can read this?”
She points to a communal desktop for customer use, “Maybe that one, but I’m not sure.”
From where we stand I can see it will work and I hand over the CD. She hesitates for a second, unsure of how to load the disk. I’m dying to take charge and do it myself but I don’t want to embarrass her. Instead I practice patience and allow this nice older lady to do her job.
Once the CD locks into place she claps her hands. Now, mouse in hand, she sends the cursor scooting all over the screen. I try to tell her I can handle it from here but she persists, all the while yakking with customers. Unable to open the document she asks another employee, a young man, to help. With one click my document appears on the screen and he leaves me to print the copies I need.
The helpful clerk has moved on, assisting a woman wearing a tennis outfit, another friend, same age, similar look. They discuss a possible matinee date to see Miss Saigon. What comes next floors me . . .
Tennis lady exclaims “I’m super stressed. My fortieth high school reunion is Saturday. I still don’t have anything to wear!!”
Helpful clerk responds, “Ha! Mine was last year and I was the same way. But I gotta say, in the end it didn’t matter. Nobody cared. We had a blast.”
I’m pretty sure there was a giant thunk as my jaw hit the floor . . . Reunion Saturday? Reunion last year? MY FORTIETH REUNION WAS LAST YEAR!! These women ARE my age!!
Exiting the store I scrutinize their appearance more closely. They are attractive, relatively fit. A nip here, tuck there, it’s all good work. Maybe I imagined she was older because her computer skills were so lacking. But there have been plenty of times when technology made me feel like a bit of an antique. Ugh . . . Yes . . . I am their age.
Back in the car I tilt the review mirror and check my reflection, crows feet around my eyes, deep marionette-like lines frame my mouth. I pull at my skin and the lines disappear. Botox, fillers and face peels could fix this, but away from the mirrors I forget I have an aging face and the urgency to make any improvements fades.
In my versions of myself I cannot see or feel my age. Around my kids I am forever their teenage mom because they are forever young to me. With my siblings I am my growing up years as a sister and daughter, a girl in a family of seven. Laughing with my girlfriends I am fourteen, fun and free spirited. And with my grandchildren I am ageless, never, ever old.
Looking in the mirror again I flash a smile, magically the years melt away.
I tell myself . . . just keep smiling.