Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Comforts of Home

by Giselle Renarde

I really hate it when people ask if I "live at home."

At home?

Of course I live at home--at MY home, the apartment that's been my primary residence for more than a decade.

But that's not what they mean.  They're asking if I live with my parents.  And then, because I'm already irritated, I want to ask, "Well, which of my parents are you talking about?  The one I haven't spoken to since I was thirteen years old and who is DEAD, or the one who isn't? And it doesn't even matter because I don't live either of them."

All this angrrrrrr is underscored by the fact that I'm in my mid-thirties and, until last year or so, I had never in my adult life been perceived as an ADULT.  I think I'm starting to look my age now (actually, I seem to have skipped from looking 16 to looking 46, somehow), but until very recently I looked like a kid.

I don't voice this grrrr very often, because every time I do whoever I'm talking to says, "You don't know how lucky you are. When you're 50 you'll look 30, so it's all good."  But, see, I don't want to look 30 when I'm 50 any more than I wanted to look 14 when I was 24.

Maybe I'd have a different mindset if I'd gone through a "normal" maturation process and looked 21 at 21, 28 and 28, etc.  But that's not how it went down.  I can tell you, from experience, that it's irritating as hell to be perceived as a child when you're an adult.

One time at the CNE, I sat in one of those chairs that has kind of a back massager thingy in it.  There was a sign up that said like "no kids 13 years and under" and the guy who ran the booth started yelling at me, "No kids! You have to be over 13!"  Guys, I was 26 years old.  For serious.

That's the sort of thing people don't consider when they tell me how lucky I am.

Booze is a whole 'nother kettle of fish.  I actually stopped drinking in my late twenties, in part because buying alcohol was too much of a hassle.  I never drank very often anyway, so it wasn't a huge change.  I was just sick of cashiers at the liquor store being jerks to me because they didn't believe the 16-year-old they were looking at was actually the 29-year-old my ID said I was.  So fuck it.  I don't drink anymore.

These days, I'm going a little grey and getting a little wrinkly.  I can't even begin to tell you how much I love my crows' feet. And my gorgeous silver strands!  Ah, they're beautiful.  I would frame them, but better to keep them on my head.

All that said, any time I feel sick there's only one place I want to be: my mom's house.  I don't have a bedroom there anymore, but I sleep on her couch probably once a month.  When I think about "home" I picture my apartment, because this is MY place in the world, but when I'm looking for comfort?  Mom's house.

When you read my diary (it's coming out of March 14th, but you can pre-order now) you'll find that Mom's house wasn't always a safe place to be, but plenty can change in 15 or 20 years.

Hey, you might even start looking your age... if you're lucky...


  1. Now this is an interesting twist! I've never considered how inconvenient and annoying it would be to look so much younger than your age.

    I really want to read this diary of yours!

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  3. There does come a stage in most lives when you'd just as soon not look your age, or even the ten years younger some folks say you look. But there's something to be said for getting that far in the first place.

    Yes, looking forward to your diary.

    (Yes, I deleted my first try at a message just to correct my stupid typo. There are worse things about getting old than looking your age.)

  4. Until Momma X stopped dying her hair, she looked considerably younger than I. Well into our fifties, we'd get stares from people thinking I was some dirty old man if I like goosed her in public or something. In truth, she's only two years younger. Oh, and they were right about the dirty old man bit. :>)

  5. Oh my god, thank you for saying this. The question I get all the time is, "How's the semester going?" It drives me absolutely insane, and I feel like a jerk because at this point it annoys me so deeply that it's hard for me to be nice in response despite knowing the other person is just trying to make small talk. I've also had the "It'll be nice to look 10 years younger when you're older" thing, but one reason I don't like looking young is that I feel it diminishes the respect I receive (people seem more inclined to assume I don't actually know what I'm talking about or have no personal experience of it). Also, it's embarrassing when I'm out to dinner and the server brings over wine glasses for everyone except me... I have a bunch of silver hair but for some reason it doesn't seem to help. Sometimes, I scrutinize myself trying to figure out if I'm dressed too young or not acting my age in some other way. It also makes me worry that I come off immature somehow. My situation doesn't sound quite as extreme as yours—I never had someone take me for 13 when I was in my 20s—but I can certainly sympathize.

    The other funny thing is that it flipped for me. When I was a teenager people always thought I was older. I'm not sure at what point it changed.

    1. I'm glad I'm not the only one. My girlfriend says I dress like an 8-year-old LOL so that probably doesn't help. You're right on the money when you say it diminishes the respect you receive. That's at the crux of it all. If people treated everyone of every age with the same level of respect, it wouldn't matter how old they thought I was.

  6. Personally, I love it when people take me for younger - what I hate is when they say - You look great - for your age."!

    1. Glad you said that, JP. Me too, although, in my case they're lying when they do. :>) I think when that stops, it's because your eyebrows have turned gray.

  7. I was very young looking in my late teens. High-school-age peers literally refused to believe I wasn't some upstart middle-schooler; and when I was of legal drinking age during college, at least one restaurant server refused to bring me a drink, despite my ID.

    I think I more or less look my age now, but depending on the day I guess I can throw people in either direction. I'll never forget the week I was proofed while buying beer at the supermarket (with a "we'll proof anyone who looks 30 or younger" policy), then offered a senior-citizen's discount at another supermarket a couple of days later. (I was in my mid-forties at the time.) I swear, a couple of beers had not aged me that much!

    I do feel I get more respect since my sideburns went gray. Less respect than if I were taller, though. (:v>

    1. That's hilarious. I was given a senior's discount once but I figured it was because I looked so impoverished the cashier felt sorry for me. I'm pretty regularly mistaken for a homeless person, as well as a child.

  8. Oh yeah, and I also don't go to casinos. I'm not a gambler anyway, but it is totally not worth the effort. The last time I was at a casino I was 29 years old and the security put me through the ringer getting in (asked me about every item on my ID and made me sign my name to compare my signature) and then once I was inside, staff kept stopping me and re-IDing me. Like every time a staff member walked by me, they'd stop and ask to see my ID again. It was ridiculous and intrusive and embarrassing. Ugh.

  9. Fucking casinos all look alike. My brother used to be involved with casino equipment, and every time a new casino opened, he'd take us there to explore and do research. "Look at this beautiful room!" He'd say. "Nothing like this, anywhere in the world!" whether it be Atlantic City, Vegas or Foxwood in Connecticut. Wherever it was, it always looked like every other friggin' casino I'd ever been in, just bigger. Like being trapped in a big pinball machine.

    And did I mention? I don't care for casinos either. :>)

  10. Interesting post. I've been going to the local university by bus for many years now (I first enrolledin 1972). In a few days, I will be honoured at a reception to mark my 25 years of teaching in the same place. One of the reasons I eventually let my hair go completely grey (i.e. I stopped dying it) was because chatty people at bus stops always thought I was a student. More problematically, predatory men sometimes thought I looked young and available. I also got the ID scrutiny. I agree that none of that is fun or flattering. I have friends who are not white, who are sometimes treated as younger & less professional than they are (I'm thinking of a medical doctor from India & a doctor/acupuncturist from China, both gorgeous women), and who usually interpret the lack of respect as racist as well as sexist, which it probably is. Perceptions of age (with corresponding perceptions of social status) could be a whole other topic.

  11. Giselle, you are a word-factory! I have a pile of books to be read first (because I promised to review them), but then I hope to read your diary.


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