The other night at a family picnic, we got to talking about how old we all feel, and I asked everyone, "If somebody woke you from a deep sleep and suddenly asked, 'How old are you?' what would be your reflexive instinctual response?"

I asked this because I realized the other day that (the skin on my neck notwithstanding) deep in my heart, I think I am 34.

In fact, I am 43.

Sometimes, though, I must admit, at the rarest moments of purest joy, I think I am 9. (Being 9 was fantastic for me, way back in 1978. After that, things got a little weird and hairy until…well, age 34. Since then, it's been good. So I guess my soul has decided to remain 34, with occasional forays back to age 9.)

I never, ever, ever think I am a teenager (nor would I want to be).

I never, ever imagine that I am in twenties again. (Please God, don't ever make me be in my 20's again. I beg of you. Not even for the taut neck skin would it be worth it for me to be in my 20's again.)

But 34? That's what I feel I am. Which I guess means the last decade of my life has weighed virtually nothing, thank heavens.

My mom said she felt 45, which shaves off a LOT of years, but my mom is in amazing shape and could almost pass for 45.

My husband said he thought he was 7. (This explains a lot.)

My friend Rayya, who is older than me but looks younger, said she thought she was 19. (This also explains a lot, because she's still kind of a rock and roll teenager.)

My neighbor, who is 81, said she still thinks she's 47. (This, again, explains a LOT, such as why my neighbor is still taking care of everyone and everything in the world.)

When I was 29, by the way, I felt 81. Just saying. So I've gotten younger in the last 14 years, which has to be a good thing, right?

I am hoping to remain 34 years old for a very, very long time to come.

How about you all?

How old are you now, in your imaginations?

How old did you used to be?

How old do you plan to be, when you are 81? And how do you plan to get there?

Do tell!


via Elizabeth Gilbert’s Facebook Wall