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Which Age Would You Go Back to If You Could?

Reliving the days of college or young parenthood might be fun. Or would you stay put?


(This article appeared previously on ThePoconos.com.)

I used to ask my nephew Matt to steer me toward new music, but lately I’ve given up and just listen to the artists I grew up with — a sure sign of aging, no doubt.

So after preordering the “new” Beatles release, Live at the Hollywood Bowl, online, I also purchased Bonnie Raitt’s 20th album, Dig in Deep, after seeing the singer-songwriter on The Tavis Smiley Show last week.

Smiley asked Raitt how the music has changed for her over time — what it’s like to sing a song like Angel from Montgomery, first recorded it in 1971, today, at the age of 66.

In retrospect I tend to be disapproving of my younger self’s behavior. If I went back, would I still be as impatient, impulsive and self-absorbed?

“There are songs that make me remember the woman I was,” Raitt replied. “They take on all these different meanings” as you age.

A Favorite Age?

Smiley then mentioned a teaser question a friend had posed at a dinner party: If you could go back to any age of your life, what age would it be?

Smiley, who is 51, said he considered reprising 26, 35 and 42 — all significant years for him, for unspecified reasons. But as he thought about it, he realized he preferred to stay where he is.

“I’ve finally gotten comfortable with the fact that aging is cool,” he said. “Every day offers a new opportunity.”

How about you? Would you, like Smiley, stay put? If not, what year would you choose to replay?

The age when you fell in love or got married? Maybe, but not if the relationship ended or the marriage failed.

The age when your child was born? Perhaps — but would you really want to revisit the sleepless nights and diapers?

Before Losses

It would be great to return to an age when everyone you loved was still alive — for me, that would mean pre-1975, to include my father. But would I then have to relive the subsequent years of death and assorted debacles — literally déjà vu all over again?

Also, in retrospect, I tend to be disapproving of my younger self’s behavior. If I went back, would I still be as impatient, impulsive and self-absorbed?

This time around, could I stop mindlessly criticizing my parents, teachers and other authority figures? Be kinder to an awkward girl that everyone picked on in high school? Appreciate what I had and stop bitching about what I didn’t?

It’s taken years of effort (not to mention therapy) to work through some of my many character flaws. Could I go back to an earlier time in life while preserving these hard-won fruits of maturity?

My Conclusion

Taking the game at its simplest, and assuming I could return in an uncomplicated way to a particular time of my life with no negative consequences,  I settled on age 25. That’s how old I was when I spent a year in Europe with my first husband.

We quit our jobs, stored our possessions and flew to Amsterdam to begin 12 months of travel and cultural immersion. As winter crept in, we headed south, ending up in a tiny apartment in Malaga, Spain, for five months. I took Spanish lessons; shopped daily, string bag in hand, for whatever was fresh in the market; learned to dismember and cook a squid and gawked at the Mediterranean from a bougainvillea-draped patio.

Better Now

Raitt, meanwhile, agreed with Smiley that she prefers her life today over fantasies of previous ages. Her father, the musical-comedy star John Raitt, had told her to enjoy her 60s.

“My dad said, ‘If I could go back, I’d be 60 again,’” Raitt said with a laugh.

Maybe these really are the good old days.

Readers: We’d love to hear from you. Please tell Next Avenue on Facebook what age you would most like to be and why. Thanks!

Jacqueline Damian
By Jacqueline Damian
Jacqueline Damian is a writer and editor living in Milford, Penn. She wrote Sasha’s Tail: Lessons from a Life with Cats, and pens a weekly column for boomers for the Pocono Record.

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