Episodes in Slowly Growing Older, Part 2

Proud new parents Tyson and Stacey welcomed their new son, Ayden James Wharton, on Sunday, January 17. I can't wait to meet the little guy.

I did something I swore I would never do and looked up high school classmates last night on Facebook. That’s right, I spent a perfectly open Saturday night seeing who from the Roosevelt High School Class of 2003 was married, had kids, lived abroad, or was busy saving the world like we swore we someday would.

It was really inspiring, actually, to see how many people have gone on to do well for themselves. It stirred a sense of pride, which surprised me. I can say I’ve forgotten about most of my high school classmates over the past six years, but it was good seeing so many old friends and acquaintances were doing well.

“I can’t believe how many of them are married with kids,” I told my girlfriend. No one within the circle of friends I still keep touch with has gotten married or had any kids. This whole trend of starting a family began a few years ago, I realize, but since none of my guys have settled down yet, it still seems like it’s years off; something we’ll do when we grow up.

Then, Tyson had a son.

Last night, I told Beth, “Tyson’s going to be a father soon. That’s so crazy.” I said it not in amazement, but in recognition of the fact getting married and having kids is completely normal at my age. My age. When you’re a teenager, a high school student, even a college student, you think of your age as a deficit. You’re too young to do this, too young to do that. Too young to get married, too young to start a family. And then one day, you’re not. You’re old enough. It’s completely practical. You reach a point where no one you know would ever say, “Oh, but they’re so young.”

Tyson was our class president. He delivered our commencement speech just days after his dad died, a day before we would drive across that state for his dad’s funeral. Somehow, he delivered a speech that included something his dad had told him growing up. I don’t remember it verbatim, but I recall Tyson’s voice didn’t once shake. He didn’t even cry. His speech carried in it the hope our class would go on to do big things. Big, not in terms of grandeur, but big in terms of things that are consequential, things that make a difference. For some, that’s joining the Peace Corps, or becoming a professional photographer or Korean translator in the Marines. For others, that’s finding your soulmate and starting a family.

I told my girlfriend this is such a fun age to check in and see how your former classmates are doing. I bemoan the process of growing older, but I know being “my age” is when you finally quit deciding who you want to be and realize who you are. You’ve finally got some knowledge and experience, and the insecurities that used to plague you just pass on through the subconscious. It’s actually really, really fun to be my age.

To the Roosevelt High School Class of 2003, I’m glad to see so many of you are doing well.

To my good friend Tyson, I know you’re going to be an amazing father. I feel privileged you would consider myself and the guys uncles.

To Ayden, I can’t wait to meet you.

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