Wednesday, January 19, 2011

So 34 Is When the Middle-Aged Thing Kicks In ...

I realized today that I'm getting old.

I joke all the time about how old I'm getting, give my students a hard time about the strands of gray in my hair, and tease the rookie teachers about being babes in the woods. In general, though, I feel pretty much the same as I always did, so I'd written off 34 as just another number ... until it came crashing down on me that I'm not a kid anymore.

Okay, here's what happened.

I have a lead foot. I don't mean to speed, it's just not something I pay the best attention to. I have (knock on wood) never been in a real car accident ... I just like to drive fast. And, to be fair, I don't drive anywhere near as fast as I used to (racking up the speeding tickets will do that).

I live in New Hampshire. I've been driving in snow, often quite a lot of snow, since I was sixteen. Truth be told, I love to drive in snow. Well, I did.

Until I woke up this morning, and the roads were sheets of ice, and it took me almost two hours to get to work. It then snowed all day, and the drive home ... well, they say a picture's worth a thousand words (and no, I probably should not have been taking a picture of how bad the driving was while I was actually driving).



So what happened to turn me from a lover of snow-driving to a cautious Cathy?

It's weird, but the only thing I can think of is that a couple of my friends were in a pretty bad snow-related car accident recently. I've driven in snow since, but I haven't been enjoying it as much, and today I was honestly afraid.

I went to one of those friends, Donna, for advice on which route to take home today--the flatter, longer one or the shorter, ridiculously steeper one. She voted for short and steep, so I headed out as soon as possible.

And I don't think I hit 20 MPH for the duration of that long, long back mountain road. Donna was right behind me, which I thought she realized, but once I got onto a main road that was at least moderately maintained, I got a text.

DONNA: Stay off Mountain Road. Very slippery.
KATIE: Thank you, but I was the car in front of you driving like a grandma ;)
DONNA: Okay, I did not mind.
KATIE: : )

And it hit me like a ton of breaks how fragile life is, how truly dangerous driving in snow is, and how fortunate I am to have reached the age of 34 considering the parking lot doughnuts and the reckless, unnecessary trips and the lack of understanding I had of what a responsibility driving is.

This was driven home, by the way, when I got onto another semi-back road (I had to go pick Addie up ... I didn't let her drive herself to school today) and this guy started tailgating me. Like, I have All Wheel Drive and I was slipping and sliding a bit, and this guy was so close I could not see the front of his car.

Ten years ago--heck, one year ago, I would have started driving faster because obviously the pace I was setting wasn't good enough. Today, I pulled over to the side of the road and let the guy pass me.

Yup, middle age hits at 34, if I'm any indication ... unless that's just adulthood in general catching up to me at last ;)