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You know you’re getting old when:

You go to work and spend the first two hours of the day wondering whether or not you turned off the heating pad that you were using to doctor your aching foot. And then you finally leave work and take an abbreviated lunch just that day just so that you can confirm… drum roll please…. Yes, the heating pad was off….

Add to that this evening. Went to dinner with a friend after work – largely to bitch about co-workers and acquaintances and their immaturity. Afterwards, we spent some time in the parking lot talking before heading off in our separate directions. Left when a large pile of kids pulled into the spots near us and began, as is common to talk and goof off. I don’t know about my friend, but I felt increasingly ill at ease (and cold… brrr..) until we left. Is there that big a gulf between me and someone in high school? I know that they have the increasing need to sir me to death in most retail settings. But it’s still hard for me on some level to accept the years that now yawn like a chasm between us. Was I really a freshman in high school 18 years ago? Is next year really 15 years since I walked across the high school football field to pick up my diploma? Where did the time go? Why do I feel no wiser? No more grown up? With no more established direction in my life?

At an age where most of my cohort has married and many have had kids, I still struggle with just where my life is going. Is it Atlanta? Is it the job I’m in now? What else would I do with my life?

I’ll put off the true soul searching for awhile. There are bills to pay. Maybe when I’ve paid off the car note I’ll ponder changing my life’s course. Maybe then when all I’ll have is the house payment, which can be traded in for the equity, I’ll consider what else I might do.

I don’t think I want to live here. There’s a lot I like about the area. I enjoy that there’s so much to do, etc. But I also find myself turned off to Atlanta in some fundamental way. Do I want to pay a couple hundred thousand to live in a cookie cutter house on a tiny lot surrounded by humanity? What’s my other option here? Move well north of the city and wait for the sprawl to catch up with me while sitting in soul-numbing traffic? I don’t think so. Option A definitely wins over the latter, but what are my other options first? And don’t tell me surprises lie behind door number three! It might be a yugo!

What else besides being forced to rub elbows with humanity do I find at fault? Atlanta, at its heart, seems to be about show rather than substance. You see it in the architecture. The house in front of me just got a new paint job on its stucco facade. While it looks nice, it made me notice that the sides and back are vinyl siding, now a different color. And I started looking around at the houses I pass everyday. Everywhere the same, brick facades and cheap sides. If you’re well off, maybe you can splurge for all brick on house number two or three. In the meantime, you’ll show your pretty side to the public. Maybe this is true of the people, too. While my neighbors have never been anything but friendly, I don’t really know any of them. I’ve never had more than the odd conversation in the front yard, etc. This isn’t their fault alone. It’s mine, too. I haven’t made the effort. Maybe I should? But which side do I make friends with? The brick or the vinyl? And how do I tell them apart?

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