I was headed towards the cash register with a basket full of cleaning products and canned tuna and a bar of dark chocolate and one large beer when a couple cut in front of me in line. They didn’t mean to; they probably didn’t even see me. They were too busy talking to each other. The girl was staring adoringly up into the boy’s face and leaning close to him and they were laughing as they put their items on the belt. They were in their early twenties. You could tell that they were because they were acting like going to the grocery store was fun, the way people do before they realize they’ll be doing it for the rest of their lives, and rarely as a date-type activity.
I found another line and got in it. This line moved quickly, and I helped the cashier bag my things. As I walked towards the exit I saw the couple at their register, still waiting to pay. Haha, beat you, I thought, all vindictive. And then I went home and made myself a Greek salad and ate it out of a plastic mixing bowl and thought about how I will never be that young again.
To people who are older than I am this thought will sound overdramatic. But it’s true that I am not, as a 19th century novelist would put it, in my first youth. Firsts of any sort are in relatively short supply, for the moment. In the coming years there will be a new set of firsts, of course, some of them of them horrible and some of them lovely, but for now my life isn’t materially very different than it was when I was the grocery store couple’s age. All that sets me apart from them is a little bit of experience that sometimes seems like a lot and sometimes seems like not nearly enough.