Why Do I Always Have to Be the Oldest One in the Room?

Remember that entry about how I had to go to the kids and divorce class and I was the oldest one there and most likely the only one there who recognized the video tapes as a form of media? Well, I should have predicted that it wasn’t going to be any different in the actual divorce court. My soon-to-be ex and I appeared on our appointed day, for the afternoon shift. The instructions said to come at 3 pm, which we did, but it was like waiting for the doors to open at a show—everyone was in the courtroom and there was a long line of people waiting to get checked in at a desk near the front. How did these people know to show up earlier? Had they done this before? There was a court session from 9 am to 3 pm, so I had figured there was no point in coming earlier—the court would have had people from the previous session in it. As we became the last people to get in the line, I hoped this wasn’t first come first served. I was grappling with that idea when I noticed the youthfulness of our fellow court mates. Then the judge began to call us forward two by two, like some sort of demented Noah’s ark. She confirmed—out loud—each couple’s marriage date and the date they last lived together. She made the two people state their names and affirm that they had read and agreed with the terms of their divorce, and then she pointed out any problems in the agreement. The marriage dates rang out—2009, 2011, 2007.

I looked around the room. No gray hair, not even any covered up with blonde dye. At 49, I have already been having some small anxieties about age, especially as it relates to my career. Boston is full of start-ups which is very exciting to think about as I contemplate my next job; however, a few informational interviews revealed there is hardly anyone over the age of 30 working at these places. I was starting to feel not just old, but worse, irrelevant. I was still struggling with this new information, so I was not happy to also have to face it in my personal life. Here I was awash in young people who clearly had thought marriage was something else, or maybe they had mistaken the wedding for marriage, or maybe the statistic I read was true—that 30 percent of people who get married know before the wedding they are marrying the wrong person and do it anyway. As I did with the children and divorce class, I wanted to jump up and tell them to get back in the ring—did they think life was a fairy tale and there was a happily ever after? 2005, 2008. Finally there was a couple who got married in 2002—she wasn’t my age, but closer than the rest. I wanted to run over to her and kiss her, but I don’t think the stern looking court officer would have approved. And just as I was calming down, I heard, “Married October 2012, stopped living together April 2013.” Whaaat? What this some kind of Vegas wedding? They looked younger than 20. I wanted to punch them both. Then I wished every person in this country who claims that gay marriage degrades a “time-honored institution,” would sit in divorce court for 10 minutes. We straight couples were doing a pretty good job of destroying the institution ourselves. The judge called us up. “Married in 1991, stopped living together in 2011.” I wanted to answer with a championship game-winning fist pump—THAT’S how it’s done, people—but I think courts frown on that sort of thing. I wonder if it would work at one of those no-one-over-the-age-of-30 tech startups?

Photo credit: The Guardian

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