I woke up the other day, and realized that I was here. I’m a college student. Living in a dorm. Eating pizza with a vigor and frequency I would never have dreamt possible. I have a car, a tiny little thing that’s essentially a go-cart with doors.

But yesterday, I was in Mr. Fitzpatrick’s math class, sophomore year of high school. I was chauffeured around by my mother, who dropped me off at class in that huge old Crown Victoria of hers. Pizza meant either cafeteria cardboard or a treat for special occasions or unsupervised nights.

Men are supposed to wake up screaming one night in their forties, feeling the growing wrinkles on their face and crying out “I’m old!” “Where’s the time gone?” “I was twenty-five just a few months ago!” College students don’t suffer mid-life crises.

I’m not going through a mid-life crisis, unless my life is to be exceptionally short. I flipped through an old yearbook awhile ago, and found my picture. The beaming innocent staring back at me could have taken my spot in communications class without
incident. No, what’s preoccupied me recently is the way time, itself, is speeding up.

When I was nine, and the family took a summer trip to Disney World in July, I can remember ages of activity on either side of that great line through the vacation. Three months was 3% of my life back then…if I live to be a hundred, that’s three years. Each summer vignette–from wandering downtown dressed like a pirate to that bee sting at my aunt’s cabin–is a week, a month unto itself. Last year, a week was a barely perceptible blip on the radar screen. Class followed class, assignment followed assignment, and weekend followed all, as surely as ducklings totter along after their mother.

I tell people about this feeling. “Time’s speeding up!” I’ll say. “Look at how fast last year went! At this rate, tomorrow it’ll be next week, and next week it’ll be time to retire and in a month tops I’m worm food.” They laugh sometimes, a little nervously, at the sheer weirdness of what I’m saying. For most people, the process of looking back doesn’t begin until 25 or 30–everything until then is eager anticipation. I’ve got a head start because I’m addressing the problem now.