Growing Old

I'm not going to lie: the idea of growing old scares me. You're allowed to laugh and call me vain, and I wouldn't hold it against you if you did: a lot of people I used to know (and thankfully lost contact with) used to fear growing old because it meant losing their looks. If it means anything to you, I have no looks so I'm not too fussed about losing them - but I'm desperately worried about losing other things.

It may not seem much like it, since I'm a saint in the worst sense of the word (there is nothing interesting in my life, and it's all my fault for being a boring, shit, shy, reticent, introverted piece of scum), but I seek the fire and the passion of life. I read a lot of books, so I'm probably looking in the wrong place, but still. I seek excitement, something to make life worth striving for, something to agitate me and stir me up. I don't like to be soothed, and I don't want to be at peace with the world until it gets sorted out. I want to change the world. I want to change myself. I want to make things better, to be spurred on, to feel alive...

...Remind me again why I am looking for that feeling of living in good causes. I'm not a very bright person.

Anyway, enough of my whining and self-pitying. I myself was first stung into writing this when my parents told me about their drive to a park in Essex where they bought some (not very pretty) flowers that they later argued over. Now, I know the kind of places my parents like to drive - having been dragged along there myself, the last time on a particularly bad family trip involving my aunt and uncle constantly trying to get away to drink beer and eat crap food, my parents dragging everyone on a tour of the most vomit-inducingly touristic villages in England and Wales, and me being anhedonic, trying to suffocate myself, and then spending the entire drive back regretting that I hadn't gone through with it. We were a group of people who wouldn't choose to spend our time together were we not related by blood and marriage and thought we had to do it because of the sanctity of the family, cramped up with no privacy, watching shitty, cheesy comedy and listening to shitty music because my dad likes easy listening, in a shitty, isolated place in South Wales shut up in a leaking holiday cottage while it rained, and all because we thought we had a duty to do it - so we forced everyone to go to the most fake, most shallow, most worthless places on this island because that's what people need to see.

I'm never doing this shit again, I swear.

But I digress: I know where my parents like to go, and that's to boring little villages in the middle of nowhere, to buy overpriced, useless tat and fight over who'll take terrible pictures with an ancient, poor-quality camera. When they go to these places, they marvel at the beauty and tranquility of the little English villages - but when I go there I feel something quite different. For example, my chest starts tightening with panic when I so much as think about being dragged to yet another one. That's not because of any terrible repressed memories I might need to talk about with a counsellor or therapist, it's because little villages, by their nature, are small and in the middle of nowhere, with nowhere to run - and I can't drive, and I don't know the public transport around that area, so I'm essentially stuck in a place I hate and can't escape it.

I also feel quite bored and disgusted, because there's nothing to do for young people, no passion, no life. Actually, there's nothing to do for people in general: I doubt anyone could truly live there. The villages seem to run on tourism, with nothing else for the locals to do. Their demographics must be so fucked up, and while grey-haired tourists might care more about how quaint the little settlements are, I care more about the people. My heart dies to see them waste away in the middle of nowhere.

More than that - I feel scared. My parents were young once too; they cared about things. My mother took to the streets. My father lived it up at uni and did the stupidest of stupid things. And now look at them, growing old, growing grey, voting Tory and being racist, homophobic, misogynistic and ableist at various times and in various places, quibbling over food and parking and cameras and flowers, complaining about noisy neighbours and teens in hoodies and the road stinking of fish, going for weekend drives into the places that make me shake with fear while listening to soothing, shitty drivetime radio...

...I'm terrified. I'm terrified I'll forget everything I've learned, that I'll forget how to think and how to treat people. I'm terrified I'll lose sight of my quest for passion and instead seek to be soothed, calmed, relaxed into unthinking submission. I'm terrified I'll shy away from vitality and force. I'm terrified I'll stop thinking about the big things in life and leave them up to the experts or the politicians, because I'll be too busy working a 9 to 5 wage slave job that I'm forever on the point of losing. I'm terrified my world will shrink to a circle of people I don't really like but feel that I have to do things for, and that they'll still be the same petty, small-minded, cruel, shallow people they were at 14, just in frumpy clothes. I'm terrified my joy in life, like my parents' joy in life, will be driving down country lanes in an old, painfully slow car to buy overpriced tat at a dying little village, take crappy pictures and argue. I'm so terrified that this is what life has in store for me that it makes me seize up and shake...I have trouble even breathing properly, simply from the terrible images in my head and the terrible words I write. Is this what I fight for? Is this why I try to desperately stop myself from attempting suicide, again, and this time succeeding? So I can keep house and be the perfect hostess?

People try and tell me that it's not inevitable, that you just have to fight against it - but people do. Every generation says that they won't be like their parents, and then they turn out just the same. We all do it, smart and stupid alike, and I don't think there's any way to avoid it except for luck.

It's enough to make me curl up in fear.