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I am old

| Wednesday, September 4, 2019

As I sat in LaFun on Tuesday awaiting my turn to have my senior portrait taken, my heart began racing as I finally realized something that I have known for a long time but have never been brave enough to acknowledge.

I am old.

I’ve shaved consistently since high school. Usually when I shaved the razor would root out every hair and leave me completely baby faced for the next day or so. Once over the summer, I shaved and a couple hours later noticed some whiskers. You know, the hairs that are cut but never really go away, that are managed but never defeated.

I am old.

People call me Tom. Granted, they have done so for as long as I can remember. And I love Tom. But it is a middle-aged name, at least. Have you ever met a young Tom? I, for one, have only met one other person roughly my age named Tom and he was such a grandpa.

I am old.

As of February, I can legally purchase alcohol in the United States. For the average college student, this occasion is extremely joyous. For me, it was a manifest representation that there were no youthful milestones left. The next major birthday? Thirty, a.k.a. the age at which in the 1700s I would already be guaranteed to be dying of some ghastly disease. My heartbreak only intensified when I realized that, at least on the plane of alcohol legality, there is no distinction between myself and my 50-something parents.

(No, Mom and Dad, I’m not saying you’re old.)

I am old.

I recently drove by my high school. I liked high school, but I’m not the “HIGH SCHOOL WAS THE GOLDEN AGE!” kind of guy. Nevertheless, I shuddered when I saw the front door and realized that, were I to saunter in the front door to say hello, there would be no students I knew for me to say hello to. None. They would not recognize me and would only ask, “Who is this old man?”

I am old.

The Friday morning of Welcome Weekend, I awoke early to the various move-in crews’ music wafting across West Quad. I groggily reached for my phone and angrily complained to one of my friends. “Not even kidding. I am actually going to call the cops,” I fumed. “Lol, channel your inner middle-aged suburban parent,” she responded.

I am old.

One day this summer I noticed something funny in one of my eyebrows. It was, to my horror, a hair that was noticeably lighter than the rest. Panicked, I ran down the stairs and asked my family for their thoughts on its color. My dad started giggling mischievously. “Gray!” he said. “No! No! It’s blonde! It’s blonde!” I desperately protested. To which he shook his head and simply repeated, smiling like a Cheshire cat, “Gray!” This theory was seemingly confirmed when, the next time I looked at the offending hair in the mirror, I noticed a wrinkle — yes, a wrinkle — under my eye.

I am old.

I have a medically diagnosed back problem.

I am old.

I have a Facebook account.

I am old.

The night of Domerfest, I was walking on campus with one of my friends when we saw a parade of first years — who were likely terrified but pretending to be pumped — shuffling awkwardly towards Welcome Weekend’s marquee event. I was filled with an incomprehensible longing for one of the worst nights of my college experience. “Enjoy your youth, for it is fleeting!” I addressed the wide-eyed and overwhelmed freshmen under my breath. “Domerfest is the worst!” my friend responded. “I know,” I replied wistfully, “but at least they’re young!”

Man, I am old.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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About Tom Naatz

Tom is a senior at University of Notre Dame. He is majoring in Political Science and Spanish and is originally from Rockville, Maryland. Formerly The Observer's Notre Dame News Editor, he's now a proud columnist for the paper.

Contact Tom