A series of recent events has alerted me to the fact that I am officially middle-aged: The All Blacks seem so young to me they could almost be my kids. Our GP is my age - it's like having medical banter with a mum-friend who can write prescriptions.
And, this week, the real kicker: I got a bike.
I don't know when official middle-age begins but I turn 40 in a couple of weeks. So here we are, I'm closer to the "middle" than whatever was before that.
Isn't a bike the ultimate symbol of middle-ageism?
As is the reason for buying the bike: There is a problem with my big toe that has stopped me from running. It has bone spurs that most likely need to be shaved off some time when I can hang out recovering in a moon boot for three weeks ... which will be never because I have three young kids.
We got the bike for my fitness and sanity but also, like many families with kids, because the kids got bigger bikes and suddenly I couldn't keep up with them on foot, pushing the baby in a stroller, because they are fast now and I have an elderly person's toe.
I had to ride the bike home from the bike shop because we don't have a tow bar to carry it. It was the first time I had ridden a bike in many years.
I got out of the shop and started fiddling with the gears to see how they felt. I was spinning my legs in one of the easy gears and going nowhere fast when I realised I didn't know how to change the gears back.
I rode the half a block back to the shop and explained: "Um … I fiddled with the gears and I don't know how to change them back."
The salesperson showed me what I had thought was a gear cable was actually another lever to pull the gears back. Push and pull levers on each handlebar! Bikes are so flash these days!
The last time I rode a bike they didn't do that … Ugh. I even sound middle-aged.
I started playing with the gears again as I stepped up the pedal power, riding into a head wind up the Tauranga Harbour Bridge. Then the downhill. I felt like I was playing an old arcade car game with manual gear changes. It was exhilarating and freeing.
With a 7-year-old, a 5-year-old and 16-month old - who has pretty much been with me since the day he was born - I had forgotten the beauty of solitude.
Not the solitude of a baby sleeping for a couple of hours but this - real solitude.
No one demanding emotional energy or attention or … anything. All I had to think about was where I was going and what gear I was in.
I had a grin from ear to ear the whole ride.
I followed the waterfront all the way home basking in what an amazing place we get to call home.
The affection I have towards this bike from one brief ride is much like the love I had for my first car - which has never been replicated by subsequent family cars.
The freedom. The symbol of escape. The fresh air and endorphins. I get it now.
I wish I was middle-aged years ago.