We’re at the Gulf coast in November, off-season. There are fewer people on the beach and in restaurants, and fewer cars on the road. Everything is calm and slower-paced, a perfect time for our visit.

Based on the gray hair and sagging, splotched skin of the folks staying with us at the Wyndham Beach Street Cottages, I’d say most are retired, like us. Where we’re alone, however, several of these couples have grandkids with them, children who appear to be about the age of my grandkids. And this is where I get confused.

If the ages of our grandchildren are comparable, doesn’t it follow that the ages of the grandparents should be comparable? George and I were in our thirties before we had kids, where most of our generation were in their twenties, so I would even expect us to be older than the majority of these folks. Us. Older.

Why, then, do they look so much older? They’re heavier, grayer, slower, and much more saggy. Most look too age-worn to walk 500 feet, much less the five miles I walk every day. I’m pretty sure they look ten to twenty years older than me.

But what if they think the same about me, that I look ten to twenty years older than them?

How could they possibly think that?

I know there are more important things in life, but I believe that when we see people, we automatically guess their ages, occupations, nationalities, and any number of other things. We do this without thinking.

It can be disconcerting to realize people do the same when they see us.

So, I look at myself in the mirror and, just for the heck of it, try to ignore the young me I feel inside to see what other people see.

And I wonder which of the folks I saw today is seated at their computer right now, writing this exact story, word for word.

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