27 And Counting

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I was 19 years old working at the Athletic Village in Crossroads Mall. Other than the managers, I was the only full time employee. Having dropped out of college the previous winter, I was struggling to make my way in a business filled with testosterone oozing, sports loving, OU graduates who had yet to find real jobs using their fresh degrees. It was a cush job for them. I imagine they didn't love having to train a bright eyed ambitious teenager who knew almost nothing about sports. But it was money and when our manager wasn't around, everyone slacked off considerably.

Gil, at 27, was the oldest and ironically, most juvenile of the bunch. The lanky blue eyed UPS employee hung around as a part-timer for the extra cash and the extreme discount on merch. He took nothing serious except for our stock room debates which were, for me, in all my naiveté, confusing yet addicting. 

Every day that I worked with Gil I thought two things: Yay, Gil! And Wow, 27, that's OLDER.

I remember the day I found out how "old" Gil was. Mark, who also worked with Gil at UPS, told me as we were folding the enormous row of Bike gym shorts. 
"Gil? He's 27."   
"You don't like him?"
"No, I just.. You know, why is he... He's 27. I don't know him that well."
"He's not dating anyone???"
Laughs. "He was dating someone, but he's not now. He's just...lazy."

Well, right. It was clear. Anyone who lived where we did, was 27 years OLD and wasn't "successful"... well, that was obviously someone who was lazy. I mean, blessed baby bjesus, what was he waiting for?

I don't think of Gil so much these days as I think of those two thoughts in my head as a 19 year old looking into the life of someone a mere eight years older than me. Eight years seemed like a lot back then. My reality was so small. My idea of when life began was even further off than I can put into words. 

I go through these bouts of fear and jubilation about my age. One day, I feel I have done so much, the next day an urgency swells up in me to tell everyone how great the ride was. (Just. In. Case.)

Today I feel about myself the way I thought I would feel when I was, I don't know, maybe 27 years old. I feel confident and happy, slightly nostalgic (what else is new?) I don't feel the need to explain myself to a naive teenager or a jealous friend. 

Life feels long and I feel wise. 
I hope that at that snippet of his life Gil felt that way too. At least on the good days when we were knocking around theories of love and life in the stock room.

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