February 27th, 2012
The Rock and I recently joined our good friends for a casual dinner, ordered a hefty order of pub food, and settled in for some easy conversation and laughs.
I expected silly talk mostly, because a long week just passed behind us and we all seemed prepared to empty our minds of the drivel of the day, reasonably avoiding the larger, looming topics of working to the bone, and watching our children growing taller and away. But first, we sat in amicable silence for a few seconds scanning the bar and its patrons in their early 40s and 50s soaking up a little out-for-the-night neighborhood ambiance. Our eyes took it all in: Fluffy-haired women in Chargers jerseys flirting with bearded jocks, prowling divorcees nursing cold beers while shifting eyes to the right, left, and back again, and restless souls swimming joyfully in the responsibilitylessness of a Friday evening.
Despite the suburban veneer of the place and its drinkers, there buzzed a palpable vibe of days gone by and recapturing youth I’m hard put to explain, but I think we all caught a whiff of it, and processed its meaning in the deeper nethers of our brains. Here we sat, a foursome of comfortability and three-car garages, wondering if the people in front of us were having more fun.
Then the question came, way before the waitress served our burgers: “When was the prime of your life?”
My friend’s husband asked it, not out of regret or reminiscing, rather out of curiosity, but surely prompted by the scene unfolding before us in all its questions unanswered and what-could-have-beens.
I immediately set to racking my brain. I’d never been one to particularly adore my younger days, or its uncertainties and poses. I much preferred the contented conversation of today over the nervous grasping for words and awkward companionship of my 20s. There were times, sure. A young woman living in downtown Chicago; a flat bedecked in bricks and balconies; and CDs played long after midnight while blowing cigarette smoke up my hip chimney chute while contemplating future lives with my best friend.
A life that stretched ahead.
So that’s what I said, mostly because I thought I should. I was 25, I explained. Young. Recently-broke-up thin. Over a crappy relationship and starting over. Surrounded by college friends and Cubs games and midnight jukebox songs.
Anything could happen, then. I poised myself for greatness and possibility. Yes! I exclaimed, feeling rightish in my reply. That was my prime. I wore short skirts without apology, I imagined manuscripts written, I rode city buses awash in humanity that enthralled me. Because who were they and who would I meet and where would I go.
My prime. Surely.
The rest of the group answered in similar fashion. Seems our twenty-something selves really had it made: Youth, legs, and energy. We lived the years oblivious to our excellence and forged on, to where we were now, watching, looking back.
Or so I thought, until later that night, at home and couch resting, I peered from my perch as my husband, going to bed a little earlier than I, paused three-quarters of the way up the staircase.
“You know my prime?” He asked.
I girded my soul for something regretful.
And he turned to walk all the way up those stairs.
I gawked. The Rock, usually given to reality and practicality, will always tell me if asked when I look fat in my jeans or need to stop trying so hard. But he is right, and my road, and my prime.
And wherever you go, there you are.
You silly git: Your prime is now.
This post is in answer to a PROMPTuesday.