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Lost in Young Bodies
By Paisley Hibou
Sunday, one month left of winter, street parking stolen by church-goers, our stomachs weighed down by brunch. We scurried into the opera house like mice late to a ceremonial cutting of the biggest block of cheese in the kitchen's history. A black-vested woman scanned our tickets and muttered something without making eye contact. Then we stumbled through a door on its way to closing. The usher raised her brow at us and tutted. Our seats were in the center of the theatre. Since we stood to the far left, that meant squeezing past many unhappy patrons. After crushing a couple of feet and cracking many more knees, we sat down and waited for the curtains to part. But, as tardiness is part of the glamour of show biz, we found ourselves squirming in anticipation—and under watch. We were the babies of the audience.
Of course, we were used to it: being in places where the average age is 45. On this particular day, we had lived up to the stereotype of a twenty-something, being late, underdressed, and filled with mimosas. Yet normally we showed up early and wore moth-eaten things several seasons out of fashion. We said “please” and “thank you” and “excuse me” like a black man in Jim Crow era Alabama. We held our own in cocktail conversation, even with our dirty habit of stuffing my purse with pastries and hors d'oeuvres because—despite what may appear to be a life of middle-aged glitz and elegance—we live on a young adult's budget. Luxuries often come complimentary in our line of work; yet basics are rarely free. We pay more for a jug of milk than we do tickets to the ballet, mainly because of the wonder of the press pass.
We have learned to endure the looks from older people who do not think we belong. For we are young, we have not yet earned any of this. We should be playing beer pong because we'll fret over our next paycheck in our sober state. But we are grandparents. We rise and retire early. We revel in our grumpiness. Our habits are studier and stickier than a spider's web. We cherish the small moments—like butter melting and running over hot bread—and write letters to our friends. We love the opera. And when the curtain reveals the glittering stage, we feel as giddy as children before a magician. Somehow, though, our taste in opera is seen as old. Lost in young bodies, no magic will make us older than we are. Only age and wisdom and feelings too big for our younger selves to understand.
#OldSoul #Opera #PersonalEssay #Youth #YoungAdulthood #TwentySomethings #Ageism