Shortly after midnight last Thursday, in the first few minutes of my birthday, the girls and I were standing on the outdoor patio of a club downtown. Our merriment was mild, just talking and sipping wine, as we were reserving our energy for the real celebration Friday night. But the girls were still telling random strangers it was my birthday. One guy said congratulations and did a toast with us. Christen and I had been talking about how over the past couple weeks people had been consistently guessing my age to be quite a bit younger than I actually am. Despite knowing that it can be a tricky question to answer, we posed it anyway to this guy who'd just raised his glass with us.
"How old do you think she is now??" the girls asked.
He turned his eyes to me. I rolled mine, and said, "It's okay if you are off, I expect it." Answers always seems to depend on what I'm wearing or how my hair is done, or how old my friends look, or how old the guesser is... you name it.
"Look directly at me," he said.
I laughed as I did so. He stared right into my eyes. I joked, "Are you trying to tell how much wisdom I have in my eyes or something?"
He didn't say anything and kept looking for a couple more seconds. I got quiet and waited.
"26," he declared confidently.
"No way!" the girls and I shouted. We applauded his accuracy, and he bought us a round.
Obviously, I thought about that encounter later, since as you may know by now, I like thinking about age and meaning. I was impressed with the stranger's accuracy, and decided that if it were true that looking into my eyes would belie my age, I would be okay with that. I've made a lot out of every single season of my 26 years; and they've been loaded with joy, heartache, love, education, success, failure, adventure... If my eyes made that number clear, I'm proud of it. But I wouldn't want them to have seen too much yet. That my eyes haven't aged me is a blessing; I haven't had to endure the sort of trials that would make them appear older. But I also have plenty of time for them to gain in "wisdom" from even more lessons learned, goals reached, self-discovery, and family created.
I'll toast to that.
"The eyes indicate the antiquity of the soul."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson