Nothing makes you feel older than working with a bunch of fresh-faced fashionista 20-somethings in their prime. The youthful figures. The high pitched eager voices. The over-achieving, will-travel, can pull 12 hour days and over-nighters, dedication of an up & coming rising star. I haven't been confronted with such a scene, well ever. Even when I myself was 25, I never really felt it. I didn't work for "young" companies per se. I guess the organizations I worked for were more traditional, a bit stogy even. I would never for example, have wine served to me at my desk, (as I did today). I would never have heard a coworker discuss how he was building a full bar in his cubical for office happy hours (as I did today).
Today, I moved offices and closer to the hipsters. All of the sudden I found myself munching on brie and sipping pinot girigio at 4:30 with a bunch of 22-25 year olds. And man did I feel OLD. Freaking Old. Not in a good way. In an unattractive, wrinkly, boring way.
They were sweet to me. Not a bit condescending. Totally engaging and professional. I seriously doubt I was anywhere near as composed as they were ten years ago. "Oh you live in Berkeley!" they chimed. "It's pretty there right?". Uh huh. "You have two kids! Neat! Kids are sooo cute!" Yup.
I was impressed by their kindness and willingness to invite me into their circle. But I don't belong. Not really. Yes we talked fashion. They nodded at each other knowingly when discussing the need for a lower rise skinny jean in the market. Lower rise?? Are you freaking kidding me? I now fully understand the "mom" jean trend, gotta suck it in somehow right? They chatted about brand names I have never heard of. They moved on to reminisce about recent happy hours that I have not and never will be a part of...gotta catch the 5:24 train to be home by 6:00 and see my kids!
We talked about age a bit. I gave a speech about feeling old but realizing that there a ton of benefits of being an older, more "seasoned" professional. I gave them a wink and a nod and excused myself from the party, so I could head for home. As I slid through the front doors of the office building and flipped on my trendy (yet cheap knock off version) sunglasses, I started to reason with myself. It is better to be a real grown up. It feels great to be respected for my expertise. I have more confidence in my abilities now. I walked quickly down the busy San Francisco streets, headed towards BART, headed towards Berkeley, headed towards my boys, headed towards home.
A part of me wished I could stay in the city, continue to drink cheap wine with my coworkers and chat with them about office politics. A part of me wished that I had a quiet apartment to return to at 1am after a night of "blowing off steam", instead of a noisy messy house that begs for cleaning and laundry. Sometimes it's a big part of me.
But I got on the train and made the trip home. I emerged from underground and stepped out into my sunny Berkeley neighborhood, and felt a sort of calmness wash over me. And yet I was also greeted with the familiar feeling of excitement. Excitement to see my boys. My pace quickened towards home and I envisioned son's faces, I knew that they would be happy to see me.
And tonight here in Berkeley my ancient 35-year-old self enjoyed dinner out with my boys at Zachary's Pizza. (Little plug, the place is beyond yummy). Sure my new co-workers back in San Francisco were out partying in their cute outfits (or still plugging away behind their computer screen), but here I am with a family. And yes, in case you are wondering, I do realize that someday I will look back at this time wistfully, remembering my youth...