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Recently it has become apparent to me that I am growing older. I don’t know why this wasn’t obvious to me before. I guess it’s because I still feel like a kid, well, maybe not a kid, but a freshman of sorts. I still feel like I’m trying to learn my way around, that there are more things I don’t know than I do, that I just don’t get it, whatever It is. Every day I discover something I didn’t know, had forgotten about or thought I knew, but didn’t. And every day, my perspective changes a little. It changed a lot during the holidays, thanks to some very long thoughts after a very short conversation with my cousin’s granddaughter, McKenzie. It went something like this: McKenzie: “How old is she (my daughter)?” Me: “15 months. And how old are you?” McKenzie: “I’m 7 and three-quarters. How old are you?” Me: “Ummm, umm. Ohhh, I have to think. I’m 32. No, wait, I’ll turn 32 in March. I’m 31. I think. Yes, that’s right. I’m 31.” I actually counted on my fingers, doing the math according to my birth year. McKenzie was not impressed. Nor was I. To the contrary, I was mildly embarrassed. That I didn’t know my own age surprised even me. It goes right along with tying shoelaces and reciting your address and phone number. These are things I should know by now. I guess I do know it. I’ve had 31 birthdays. With cake. But I don’t feel 31. I don’t feel any older — or wiser — than a 20-year-old. Sure, I look a little different. I have a few wrinkles, I don’t party nearly as much — OK, ever — and I worry about things like slick roads and stairs without handrails … and bills. But where are all those traits that are supposed to come with age — the knowledge, the confidence, that glimmer of understanding in the eyes? Why doesn’t the world make any more sense to me now than it did 10 years ago? Why am I still looking for advice instead of giving it? Why do I still have more questions than answers? And why am I counting on my fingers? Maybe I’m just unable to see myself as a grown up, or reluctant to. Because then, I’m the one who’s supposed to have the answers, who understands the universe and people and behavior and the reasons why things are the way they are. The only thing I know for certain is there are lots of things I don’t know. It’s no secret; I admit it freely. I guess I can include my age among them. It’s a number, after all; I’ve never been good with numbers. When you’re young, say, 7 and three-quarters, that number is important. It means you’re growing up. You’re getting big. For a while, it means more candles on the cake. When you get a little older, it means you’ve reached certain entitlements: driving at 16; legal adulthood at 18; the ability to purchase and drink alcohol at 21. At some point, to me — and maybe it’s this way for everyone — the number became a little less important. I’m still learning, still growing — if not physically, then in other ways — and still getting a little older every year, every day. For that I’m thankful. Sure, every once in a while, I’ll marvel at how quickly time has passed. And, yes, it does go by faster every year. But what matters to me most now is not how many years old I am, but how much I’ve grown and how much I can grow. I’ll never have all the answers or understand the universe, completely. Maybe, one day, I’ll feel qualified to dole out advice, or maybe not. But I know I’ll have more fun thinking about those things, than how old I am. I can always count on my fingers for that. Holly Tabor can be reached at (270) 505-1745 or firstname.lastname@example.org.