Too young to really be the big Five-Oh

Scott Swanson

It wasn’t until I went to visit my parents in Grants Pass last weekend that the reality of turning 50 really hit me.

I celebrated my half-century birthday a couple of weeks ago, with a lot less fanfare than my 40th. (That was when the police showed up at my birthday party. But that’s another story.)

It’s been a busy summer this year at the newspaper and at home and I hadn’t given a lot of thought to the fact that this was the big No. Five-Oh.

My knees are a little more creaky than they were five years ago and I’ve noticed that I have to work harder to stay in shape to keep up with the younger crowd. I seem to need a little more sleep now than I used to. But otherwise, my birthday was just another day, though some family members showed up unexpectedly to celebrate with a dinner at a local restaurant and I got about three times the birthday salutations I usually do.

Even when I was blowing out the candles, I really wasn’t thinking old. With daughters in junior high, high school and, now, college, I spend a lot of time with teenagers.

That tends to keep you young, particularly when you’re trying to encourage them to get in shape for sports. In my case, that means running with them.

So I really consider myself young.

Over the past weekend, though, I started realizing how old I really was. It wasn’t the fact that I felt old. It was when I ran into a guy who knew some kids I grew up with. Having lived in Japan and then moved around between California and Oregon, I’ve known a lot of people but, in some cases, haven’t seen them for years.

I had a conversation with a guy I rented some kayaks from down in Rogue River last weekend. We were chatting and it came up that he’d graduated from a local high school and he’d been friends with a guy who lived near us where I grew up and that we’d all graduated the same year – 1979.

I mentioned some other guys who’d lived in our neighborhood, whom he might have gone to school with, and suddenly it hit me: We’re ALL 50 years old.

I hadn’t seen some of these guys since I rode the school bus back in the 1970s. Now they’re probably all grandparents.

Wow. Amazing how time flies. Doesn’t seem that long ago that I was riding the school bus myself and doing a lot of things my kids are doing now – scrounging for summer jobs, trying to figure out what to do after high school, etc. But it has been that long.

It also occurs to me, though, that I’ve just moved up an age group when I next enter a race. Maybe that means I’ll be a late bloomer. I guess that will depend largely on how my knees hold up.