The spring college semester is back in session. I know this because I went to Trader Joe’s by Stonestown (I’m one of those people who refuse to call it a “galleria”) Mall last night, where I dramatically skewed the median age by a good fifteen years. All the kids stood in lines around me with their one banana and twelve frozen dinners and bag of spaghetti and jar of sauce and box of granola and little tin of jelly beans just in case they get the munchies later. It made me sigh at the chasm of difference between my life and theirs.
The crowd deviated wildly from just a week ago, when TJ’s was full of grown-up mommy/daddy-ish people like yours truly. People who push giant carts laden with lunchbox items, easy-to-cook veggies, and lots of boxes of mac and cheese. Last night the place swarmed with dudes not old enough to buy wine who looked like they were next in line to audition for Flight of the Conchords. And the girls all rocked a complicated cross between meth-chic and Zooey Deschanel as they delicately carried their one bag of salad with their lowfat soy milk.
Sometimes I forget that I essentially live in a college town – and then I encounter a gang of young ‘uns who remind me that I am seriously old. Even though SF is dense and diverse and loaded with people of all ages, my husband works at a university, my kid goes to preschool on a university campus, and we run tons of errands in areas teeming with collegiate hipster freaks who are thrilled to have escaped from Fresno or Bakersfield and be in the big City. So our family’s life essentially revolves around the whole university thing.
But I actually like it. I may be getting long in the tooth, but the energy of so many whippersnappers around me makes me feel young at heart. It reminds me of all the idealism and vigor and whacked-out hormones I had at that age. It reminds me to not forget the thrill of buying my own groceries for the first time, cooking in my own kitchen, and throwing my own parties at my own apartment.
Besides, those kids will be where I am soon enough. And then they will be the ones sighing in the Trader Joe’s.