I'm not old. I know that. And even if I didn't, if I ever dared say it out loud everyone older than me would collectively punch me in the face and be right to do so. But lately, I've been noticing some changes. The other day, as I flipped through old pictures, I came across an album from my honeymoon and saw a snapshot of me in a bikini. It was taken almost four years ago and the difference in my body was astounding. The younger body in the picture had great abs, was lithe and graceful, while my current body is softer and rounder. It's still pleasing to look at and I'm happy with it, but the change was undeniable.
In recent years I've noticed the slow of my metabolism, the small, almost imperceptible changes that signal the advance of time, but I'd managed to deny it to myself until I saw that picture. And then, today came the last piece of evidence. The undeniable truth that I'm no longer as young as I used to be. Today I was at the grocery store when a teenager called me ma'am. Not an especially youthful teenager either (although to me he appeared to be fourteen). Judging from his conversation with another cashier of the same age, he was apparently eighteen or nineteen. And yet, to him I was a ma'am. How utterly tragic. I gathered my things and headed home, chin held high. I would not let the offhand remark of prepubescent child get me down. The fact that I seemed mature to him was a good thing. It meant I looked like I had things together. Besides, when he looked in the mirror he probably still believed he was twelve.
And yet, the advance of time is a frightening thing. When we're confronted by its evidence it's hard not to think about our own mortality. I'm still very young, but time slips by so swiftly, like grains of sand through our fingers. In the blink of an eye I'll be an old woman. It's a scary thought. I realize I'll have to come to terms with this reality, time stops for no one, and I have to remember to enjoy each day as it passes. But I still don't think I'll ever be okay with being called ma'am.