Loose Ends: 30 is the new 100

Living in a small western community seems to offer one a true sense of place. Although a 30-year residence requirement is in force before allowing participation in the annual Old Timers Dinner and Dance, some of the locals in residence feel as if the White River Valley is truly home, even with only a year or two under their belts.
One hears a lot of comments in regard to age and staying young at heart these days — such things as 50 is the new 30 or 60 is the new 40. Living in a town that dates its pioneers back more than a century, qualifications for being considered an old-timer seem to hang on three decades of steady residence in the valley. Now that I have met the qualification by three years, it seems sort of ironic. It feels like once a newcomer, always a newcomer.
That 30-year criteria seemed unachievable upon arrival. It was hard to imagine staying in this valley for that length of time, particularly without deep family roots. Now it is even harder to imagine that it has been that long. As a teenager, I remember listening to my grandparents exclaiming about the elastic properties of time and how it quickened to match the march of time. It is scary discovering that I too now believe time speeds up the older I get.
“Where did the time go?” many of us find ourselves declaring upon noticing that all of the children who came in and out of our houses are now grown and gone. Listening to a group of young mothers talk about the approach of their offspring’s first days of school (preschool and kindergarten), the realization that my children’s friends were of the same age suddenly hit me. It wasn’t unpleasant or life-changing, but an “a-ha” moment of a different sort. My age didn’t matter, my knowledge and experience only helpful if one was doing a survey of sorts.
The Old-Timers Association will have its dinner and dance soon, so that those community members among us who were born here or have lived here for a minimum of 30 years will be getting together to celebrate all those years they’ve been a part of this community. While there may not be as as many family members who qualify as pioneer descendants in attendance this year, the new-timers who have passed the three-decade criteria might be there in force. After all, 30 years of residency is the new one 100, you know.