This time of the year my head spins more than usual as we wind up one season and launch right into the next. Over the weekend I felt like the very department stores I have criticized for the last 20 years when they put up Christmas decorations before Halloween. In the newspaper business, much like those department stores, we find ourselves preparing for Halloween, the election, Thanksgiving and Christmas, all in October. In addition to all these significant marketing events we have worked on the United Way section, a Helper community update, the Carbon High championship volleyball team special that we will be doing and the red ribbon promotion. But such is the life of a small town newspaper and we try to take it all in stride.
But now my thoughts have wandered from these work-related projects. This week my oldest son turns 30, a day I have dreaded for a long time. My sons have been my best friends for the past 15 years or more, as we traveled to far off places together, kayaked rivers, climbed mountains, explored canyons and enjoyed many great times. When I am with them I still think of myself as a teenager (well maybe like someone in his mid-20's) and often when people are curious about my age they politely ask how old my kids are. I think they think that if they know their ages they can guess mine without asking. Up until now I can honestly say that they are in their 20's. That will change this Saturday and now my dilemma will be, do I tell the truth or reveal how old I am getting?
I remember two other times that revolved around a 30th birthday. I was a teenager, probably around 17, when my aunt turned 30. I was living with them in western Montana and finishing up high school and my aunt was a first grade teacher in the same district. I remember teasing her unmercifully about being over the hill and too old to drive (you know all the things a 17-year-old thinks). Now I look at my almost 70-year-old aunt and see her still ranching and farming and wonder if she will ever slow up and start acting her age. It's amazing how one's thinking changes over 30 years.
When I turned 30 it was a big deal. I was also losing my hair about that time and made the worst decision I have ever made. I allowed a close friend to help me buy a toupee on my 30th birthday. I am even embarrassed to admit this, but I couldn't handle the fact that I was now over the hill and balding at the same time. The "roadkill", as my sons referred to my new hair piece treasure, was very expensive and actually fit very well. I remember it was light brown and matched the hair on the sides and back of my head exactly. It was a great feat to get it on straight and make sure the tape wasn't showing. Once I figured this part out, the other dilemma was how to keep it from blowing away. Anyone having been to northern Montana realizes that the wind blows often and very hard as well. The tape kept the hair on pretty good, however, once toupee hair stands up it stays up until it is combed or brushed down. So early on, I often would come in from outside looking as though I had seen a ghost, hair standing straight up revealing the line between the new hair and the forehead. So I began carrying a comb and a small mirror around just to ward off any embarrassing looks.
About six years into this little adventure, either I matured enough or I decided it wasn't worth the hassle. I shed the roadkill and took on the nearly bald look, which is just fine with me now. I cannot believe how vain or afraid of aging I have been through the years.
Since I have lived in Price I have done numerous stories on people at the senior citizen center, focusing on those involved in many retired programs and activities. These people are always on the go and seem busier now than when they were younger and had busy full-time jobs. Part of me can't wait to age enough to have time to travel all the time and enjoy life without the day to day of work responsibilities.
As I prepare this column, my thoughts have already softened a bit about how horrible it is that my kid is turning 30. I am reminding myself that he was already eight years old when I turned 30 and how fortunate I have been, not only to have helped raise a wonderful son, but to also have a best friend.