I was obsessed with my RA in college. She was equal parts friendly and sarcastic, her humor was at times sophisticated and other times involved a lot of poop jokes. She had a phobia of feet, and the fact that I can remember this twelve years later, but hardly any of my freshman year classes, amuses me. I lived on her floor for 2.5 years, only spending one semester in off-campus housing. Because I ended up graduating a year early, we were in the same graduating class. Still, she seemed much older and wiser, and I looked up to her.
In much the same way, I met plenty of other people who were a year, maybe two, ahead of me at college, and they all seemed laden with knowledge I would never acquire, always scrambling to catch up to their achievements.
Then I graduated, and suddenly the artificial construct of grades fell away completely within a few short years. In the closeness of the North Shore I met plenty of people who had also gone to Gordon College, had been a few years ahead of me, behind me and we hadn’t managed to meet during our time on campus. I felt that we were all in this together, all the same age, all sharing a similar past experience.
I also started making plenty of non-Gordon friends, some who were 4 or 5 years older than I, even 10. Others were 3 or 4 years younger. Age started to blur even more as other significant milestones took their place – marriage, baby making, house buying, promotions, second degrees, business starting. The type of things that happen to different people, at different times.
Still, I sometimes run into those people I had classes with who were, like my RA, seemingly older and wiser during our college years. The senior in the lit class, when I was only a sophomore. It will come as a shock that they were often only six months, maybe a year older than I was, that in fact, we were the same age. I find myself still somehow mentally believing in their extra wisdom. Turning to them for advice, checking my assumptions against their vast experience.
The older I get, the more time I spend making new friends, and then the more I find myself to be strengthening ties with wise and mentoring people, regardless of their actual, or perceived ages. I’ve also been happy to find myself able to be the “wise” friend some of the time too, although this role still scares me. More and more, I want to become like a woman I know who someone described as “age-blind.” Her friend’s ages span decades on either side of her own.
There is wisdom to be found in people of all ages, whether six months older than me, or sixteen years, or sixty. So I hope, pray, that I’ll be able to find it.