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Saturday, May 18, 2013

The Curious Case of the Movable Milestones

Milestones along a roadside to let you know how far you have come, and perhaps, how far you have yet to go on your journey. As such, we have the right to expect them to be properly placed and to remain in their appointed location.

Milestones in life, I think, are called that because we have become used to finding them equally as stable, fixed points in the flow of time. Our culture, stories and traditions often reference them and we look forward with anticipation, or sometimes with mixed feelings, to the time when we or those we love will reach or pass these traditional points.

Our first day of school is one such point; though we may feel its shadow the first day of the school year as we move through the grades, they are never quite the same as when we first leave our mother's side to step onto the bus or through the door that first day. Whether we, or our mom, looked to that moment with dread, anticipation or both, it is likely etched on our minds to this day.

Graduations from high school and college are related milestones that many of us have passed, some multiple times. And while these stones are not necessarily fixed at at particular age or date, we likely expected them at similar times in our lives; age 5 or perhaps 6; age 18, and again if we continued on in our schooling, typically 4 years later.

Many of us looked forward with eager anticipation to turning 16 and our first driver's license and 21 for our first legal alcoholic drink. Twenty-one... that magic number that for years was a singular doorway through which we became adults.

Except I didn't. There was no drama, no magic; some time between when I turned 18,  after high school graduation and while I was in college, before I turned 21, the legislature of the state of California where I was living at that time, decided in their wisdom to legislate a change in the age of majority from 21 to 18. No party, no first legal drink... honestly I wasn't particularly interested in either, OR in the age of majority until I got into an argument with my folks about whether I was allowed to do something. They insisted that I could not, until I was 21 and a quick call to the local cop shop on my part confirmed my assertion: that I was, like it or not, Mom, a legal adult.

Now, once again, I am feeling a little bit cheated out of a milestone.

Earlier this week, I turned 65. Now, normally I don't make a big fuss about birthdays. I haven't for years. Matter of fact, when I was raising my kids, it was such a non-issue and I had so much on my mind that I honestly forgot, often, how old I actually was, and began only counting -- and changing my stated age -- every 5 years.  So, ok, this was a 5 year marker, but "should have" -- considering the many years I lived with it as a cultural milestone for retirement -- been something a bit different at least, if not exciting. But no... the legislative powers-that-be, in an attempt some time along the way, decreed that for folks born in my year, the "full retirement age" at which we are able to draw the maximum of our Social Security pittance, would be moved to age 66. Yes, a pretty and nice round number in its own right, 2x33, but really?? And yes, I know for others the age is moved out even farther.  But darn, I miss having the milestones.

Do we even have milestones any more? Beyond the one that we end up laying under, that is... and as I am planning at present, I won't even have one of those.