There’s a lovely line in ‘Tower of Song’ – Leonard Cohen, folks, national treasure – that goes,‘I ache in the places that I used to play.’ My kids think this refers to dad horsing around under the blankets. Too much information. I see it differently.
In the literal sense, aching is what my hip does, when I do too much sitting at the computer, or sitting and reading, or sitting and eating, or sitting and watching TV, or just sitting. You know what I mean. Aching is what my neck does, also, when I do too much … what my shoulders do, my lower back, my tired eyes, my … jeez, I ache all the time, sometimes. Then I go to the gym – yes, this is true – and I exercise, and I stretch, and that aches too, but then the aching stops and I feel fantastic. Until another day at the computer, another morning leaning forward over the breakfast table, reading the newspaper, and the body says, you know what, you’re ageing. You’re not so flexible any more, so limber. You have to work harder at it. You have to work harder.
The motion is the lotion, my doctor tells me.
Yeah, yeah. So. Moving on. About that word ‘kids.’ Strange, isn’t it, how the word seems to trip off the tongue quite naturally, when the ‘kids’ in question are all in their thirties. Like all language, the term has so many layers. At one level, it’s a reflection of the (plain, prosaic) fact that, no matter how old they get, there will always be a gap of twenty five or thirty years between us. Until, of course, one day there isn’t. In a more fundamental sense – pretty fundamental, if you think about it – it reflects the primary – primal – relationship, of child and parent. I will always be ‘my boy’ to my mother. And at other levels, the term kids is variously a term of affection, of teasing and chiding, of irony and love and enduring emotion. ‘Kids’ – my children.
That’s one of the things about getting a bit older (notice how I said that, a ‘bit’ older. Eh? Right?). You become less sentimental, and more emotional. At least I do. Stuff like this seems more important. Being a father. Having children. Having adult friends and companions who are, in the biblical sense, fruit of your loins (ok, ok) – but separate, individual, and ineradicably connected.
There is an ache that comes with that too. The ache of love, the ache of memory and absence, of what is and is to come. The pity of it, and the tenderness.