For years, I’ve sensed a weakness in how I remember my age. I have no memory “device” to help; I haven’t bothered to figure out the math to calculate it, on-the-fly, from my birth date depending on today’s date; and most importantly, it changes every year. The age I memorized last year is now wrong. I had this thought recently: “I could very easily add or subtract a year without even knowing it. I wonder if the age I tell people is right.” But I never cared to check.
For months this summer, when someone asked how old I was, I told them “28.” Because I was under the impression I was 28. Then last week, I saw that a web site thought I was 27. Uh oh, I thought. So into whatever age calculator Google brings up first, I punched my birth date. 27, it said. My nonchalance has made me a liar, though on a matter of little consequence.
I’ve stopped asking people—people who are obviously American, anyway—where they’re from, because their answer gives me little information. Some hippies live in Atlanta and some neocons live in Portland. I feel like it’s the same with age. By 25, you may have lived a lifetime. Others, through repetition and comfort, live 20 years in the span of 40.
Surely on my last birthday, people congratulated me on my correct age. Somewhere between then and now, I shifted forward a year. Wishful thinking, maybe? I don’t fear 30.