As of the first of this month, March of 2023, I became part of a demographic that is difficult for me to comprehend.

I am now officially on Medicare.

That’s right, a little later this month I will reach my 65th birthday.

It all seems a little surreal to me. I can’t possibly by 65 years old, can I? There are days I’m not even sure I’m an adult yet – I mean, I watch Marvel movies, still giggle at South Park, and walk around most days in shorts and a t-shirt for goodness sakes! Am I really the same age as Kevin Bacon, Gary Oldman, Tim Burton, and Madonna?!? Even worse, I’m three years older than Barack Obama! How can I be older than someone who was President of the United States?

Can we all really be the same age?

I started thinking about this strange state of affairs this February, when we took a couple of weeks to head south looking for some warmer weather. We ended up in Kissimmee Florida for a week, and I thought it would be a good idea to try and meet up with an old (pardon the expression) friend who lives near Orlando that I had not seen for at least 12 years.

I admit, I had some mixed feelings about it. I met my friend, Joey, through a mutual friend while we were all working different shifts at the Montgomery Ward Buffeteria in the Glen Burnie Mall. This would have been around the equally unimaginable age of 16 or 17 - about 1975. I moved on to the Ward’s Camera Department, then to working at hotels, but we still hung out most evenings. When one of us, I’m not really sure which one, got a job at an electronics warehouse, naturally we got the other an interview there as well, so we were carpooling, lunching together, and still, hanging out most evenings and weekends. Joey was my closest companion from 1976 until the time I got married in 1984. Actually, he was still my best friend, we even still jammed together, but once Carolyn and I moved our small family out of the Baltimore area to the wilds of West Virginia in 1990, we saw less and less of each other.

Joey went on to Hollywood for a while, where he went to a music school (he’s and excellent drummer), and then shortly after returning to Maryland he took a job in Florida, and has since become a teacher in an elementary school there. The last time we spent any time together was one evening when he visited Rita and me in Shepherdstown, West Virginia sometime in 2009.

That’s where the mixed feelings came in. He was an important part of my life for a couple of decades, but we hadn’t even talked on the phone for at least ten years. A couple of “likes” and random comments on Facebook was about it.

In fact, when I sent him a text to see if he would have time to meet me and Rita one evening (‘you and any significant other’ I wrote – I didn’t even know if he was in a relationship), I suggested we could “get together for dinner. I can comment on how bald you got, you can tell me how fat I got, and then we can toy with our food awkwardly for an hour or so.”

I was only kidding a little.

But when he arrived at the restaurant, it was Joey! He sat down, said something like, “so …” and we immediately started talking and laughing together like we had just seen each other the day before. Completely relaxed and comfortable, we ended up staying until the waitresses started not-too-subtly stacking chairs on tables around us.

Joey confessed to me at one point that he, too, felt a little anxious about the reunion. He was as pleased and delighted as I was that, although there was no denying that we had both aged, somehow it didn’t matter and that connection was still the same.

As I thought about this afterwards, pondering my own shocking entry into the Geritol Set, I think the main factor here is that I don’t feel like I’m 65. Inside, I still think of myself as that guy in his 20’s who hung out with Joey. It must be the same for Joey, because when we met, those two inner-guys recognized each other right away, and were right at home.

Although I like to think I don’t look like I’m 65, I certainly don’t look in the mirror and see that 20-year-old. I still have my hair, only a few threads of gray, but the skin on my face, legs and arms are starting to sag and getting that “old man” texture that says wrinkles are not far away. The little finger of my left hand is cocked at an angle on the last joint in what is clearly arthritis. And when I get up after sitting for a while, my joints all snap, crackle, and pop like a fresh bowl of Rice Krispies.

Behind my eyes, however, that guy still has not faced the truth of the calendar. Somewhere in my head it is still the late 80’s early 90’s, just with better electronics and the drugs are by prescription only.

So although I know that sooner or later Father Time is going to bitch-slap me into reality and I’ll start wearing my plaid shorts up to just below my nipples, tucking in my golf shirt, and sporting black support stockings with sandals, it was nice to let that younger me stuck inside spend some time with a kindred spirit. It is comforting to me to know that although acquaintances may come and go, it is possible to have a true friend who can stand the test of time.

And that’s a beautiful thing.