Tuesday, 15 January 2013

I grow old, I grow old

Ah, what shall I be at fifty 
Should Nature keep me alive, 
If I find the world so bitter 
When I am but twenty-five?

When I was a sulky twenty year old university student I read these lines and thought that they would be perfect to share on the great and tragic occasion of my twenty-fifth birthday. Today happens to be that day, and as usual I realise that past me was being a touch over-dramatic. Do I feel bitter? Not more than usual. Do I feel twenty-five? Not that either.

In fact, I feel the same age I've done for years, which is about twelve. Inside I am still the same strange, slightly smelly child I have ever been, but for some reason people look at me and are taken in by the grown-up I have turned into on the outside. These people look at my grown-up clothes and grown-up face and they let me have things, like money and a flat and a driving license and cocktails. It's amazing.

(c) The Shifted Librarian
So, if that original twelve-year-old me could look into her future and see what I've made of her, what would she say about it?

First, I think she'd like the flat. She'd really like the shelves and shelves of books (though she would say MORE SCI FI PLEASE), and she would go into raptures about the large tank containing Watson the lizard. Twelve-year-old me had just decided that a bearded dragon was one of her lifetime's ambitions, so she would give me major kudos for that. She would also, I think, be very pleased to discover that I had a boyfriend. Twelve-year-old me was sure that, because she could not marry one of Diana Wynne Jones' heroes, she was going to die unloved and alone. In fact, the only thing about my living arrangement that would bother twelve-year-old me is my lack of a dog. Twelve-year-old me would be EXTREMELY displeased about this, because dogs are one of the reasons for being alive in the first place. (I agree with her, and I am sad about it too).

What about what I do with my life? Well, I think that if I could have sat my twelve-year-old self down and told her that one day, people were going to send me books FOR FREE so I could write reviews of them, she would have probably wept with joy. And if I'd added that I was going to spend my days helping to run a literary magazine and working in publishing houses, and write books in my spare time...

Well, I'm pretty sure that twelve-year-old me would look at me and say, "When I grow up, I want to be you."

Granted, I don't have a full-time paying job. Granted, my boiler makes strange and horrible noises every time it turns on. Granted, I have to pay bills and buy food and wash the kitchen floor, because it turns out that when you grow up no one else is prepared to do that sort of thing for you any more.

But there's something pretty great about being able to say that, at the age twenty-five, I have pretty much turned into the person I always wanted to be.

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