I've recently had some amusing conversations about my age. I'm thirty-six years old. I'm not sure exactly what to think of that age. Most of the time, people think I'm younger than that. Perhaps because I look younger, perhaps because I act younger, probably because of both. And as I look ahead to the next few months, sitting in bookstores greeting strangers who usually give me a look that says you're not old enough to have written one book not to mention ten! (and a lot of them tell me this too), I know I'll be having the same conversation many more times. 

So--how old am I, one might ask. 

I'm eternally fourteen, unsure of what to say or do, ever mindful of people's thoughts and feelings and always surprised at how some others aren't. 

I'm sixty-five and retired, burnt out by the corporate grind, wondering where the last decade of my life went and for what. 

I'm twenty-two again and starting anew, starting fresh, starting something different and exciting. 

I'm thirty-something paying the bills and taking out the garbage and greeting the neighbors. 

I'm any age that says I'm unfit to be a father and unsure of what the heck I'm supposed to do with this wild, beautiful seventeen-month-old daughter. 

I'm ninety-seven looking out and remembering different places I've been, different people I've seen, different personalities I've lived out. 

But in the end, I guess I'm thirty-six. And just like I was when I was twenty-six, when I was unpublished but still believed it would happen even though most probably didn't (or probably just didn't care), I still believe that it can happen. What's "it" refer to? Well, that's for me to know. But it's not Oprah or bestsellerland (though that sure would be nice). No, it's something else. 

I might be thirty-six, but I can still hope and dream. They almost managed to kill that trait in me, but I got out before it was too late. And I'm thankful.