In the introduction to Oliver Twist, it is stated that Charles Dickens was “dedicated to any and every sort of game or jollification.” I underlined it twice, because I too have devoted my life to “jollification.” Sure, there were the years in Newark, NJ which will always be referenced, if mentioned at all, as “The Dark Years,” when things weren’t very jolly; but, I’m trying my darnedest now to rectify those three and a half years of my life.
The fact that I haven’t once mentioned ever living or working in Newark, since I’ve been in Tokyo, drives home the point of how extremely easy it is to reinvent oneself in a foreign land (especially when there’re no friends or family around). My identity is ever-shifting here, and I’ve done nothing to correct misperceptions, and I’ve certainly done my fair share to promote other misconceptions.
My Age: Anyone who’s ever met me knows that I don’t like to mention/talk about/discuss/ or celebrate getting older. Yes, it’s a part of life, but I didn’t think it’d be a part of my life. Yes, I thought the good died young, and I was sure I wouldn’t make it past thirty. So what, if other people happily embrace their grays and wrinkles and sags and bags? That’s never been me. I’m not mature when it comes to this topic, and I don’t mind if you judge me and say, “Wow, how immature.” Yes, I’m immature about getting older and if that r&b group still existed I’d ask them if I could be their backup dancer. Yes I’m alive, healthy, I made it, life is good, yada yada yada… I still don’t like aging, and one by one I may have to distance myself from people who know my real age.
However (this is a big, awesome however), at my job all my coworkers think I’m anywhere from 26 to 28. I’ve done nothing to correct them. Nada. I think I may have even nodded the first time it was said. I don’t lie, what I do say is “I don’t want to talk about that.” I don’t pretend to be coy and giggle and say, “Oh a lady never talks about her age.” What I do is give a very stern look (but not stern enough to cause wrinkles) and say, “Let’s change the subject.” I wish it weren’t such a big deal to me. I wish when I was asked I could proclaim, “Oh, I’m –,” but the number scares me and it’ll surely scare others, especially as it seems that the people whose company I enjoy here are much younger than me.
It happened again today. After work, two of my coworkers invited me for pizza and beer. I worked for three hours today (big grin!)… but I digress… So, they invited me for pizza and beer, and I turned them down, because I’m stone-cold broke until this Friday, aka payday. T, a really sassy beauty from Seattle, insisted that I go and she’d cover me until that elusive day, aka payday; I, happily accepted, because it’s not only important to widen my circle of friends here, but I love pizza… and beer. T, D and I went to Gohan, where we ordered a sausage and pepper pizza, a Caesar salad pizza, and an order of nachos (can I just tell you the sausage pizza was off the chain, and I don’t even like sausage). I asked T to take a picture for me, because I was without my camera, and a pizza that gorgeous needs to be seen. D said something about not hanging with many of the people at work, because “they’re not our age, and they don’t really get it.” I simply nodded– “Those people over 30 just don’t get it, do they?” Friends, I’m on borrowed time– when will I be found out? I also just came home and saw a message on FB from my gorgeous, twenty-something friend Sonia highlighting our approaching birthdays (Oh no, not again!).
And here is the problem– on the train home, I was trying to think what age I’d feel comfortable saying out loud, and what that would then mean of all the other extra years. The problem is there’re no years I’d give up; there’re no years that weren’t crucial; there’re no years, not even “The Dark Years,” that didn’t add value to my life and teach me how to be myself today (crazy and accepting of it); there’re no years where I didn’t feel ecstatic to know the people I know and love the people who I’m blessed enough to have in my life; there’re no years that were a waste and that I can simply erase from my existence. So, therein lies the quandary: do I embrace and say my age out loud, ’cause I wasn’t just alive, I lived those years, or do I leave everyone thinking I’m 27 (28) and just another cool kinda woman/kinda girl? Hm. All I know now is that like Charles Dickens, I’m going to continue devoting my life and my time in Tokyo to the pursuit of “every sort of game or jollification.”