I heard some information on the radio a while back that said you are most likely to encounter a mid-life crisis around the age of 42. It will last roughly 5-6 years, during which time your tastes in music will get significantly younger. Once those 5-6 years are over, they will change back.
This information worries me. I’ve always liked music that 12-year-olds like, so how will I know if I’m having a mid-life crisis? Am I having one right now? What are the other signs?
I am depressed about getting older. That’s a pretty big one, isn’t it?
I somehow thought I was immune to this phenomenon of getting old, so it caught me off guard once it started happening. Not that I didn’t think I would get older. I just didn’t think I would actually age.
I told myself a daily regimen of Jergen’s lotion and Oil of Olay was all I needed to stay forever young. My skin is laughing at what an idiot I was.
Now I look down and see balls of dough instead of kneecaps.
In an act of pure defiance, my cheeks have decided to gradually slide off my face and melt into my neck like frosting on a cake that’s been in the sun too long. This gravitational pull has left lines on either side of my mouth, starting at the corners and working their way down to my chin, leaving me looking like a ventriloquist dummy. I’m terrified of ventriloquist dummies. Is that why I’m afraid to look in the mirror?
It doesn’t take Nancy Drew to figure out what’s going on here. I’m not really afraid of the wrinkles and the dough balls. I’m afraid of the ticking clock. The high school guidance counselor is tapping his pencil on his desk, saying, “Ok, missy, graduation is almost here. What do you want to do with your life?” and suddenly there are so many answers to that question that I’m scared I won’t have time to check them all off the list.
Fear of not accomplishing life-long goals
Right around the time the wrinkles showed up, I started this blog. Coincidence?
Writing was the first and only thing I ever really wanted to do with my life. My childhood best friend, Jenny, had a mom who was a writer. She wrote fiction for young adults before it was popular to do so. She would come to our school and tell us how she started out writing in a closet and how she got her ideas from clippings she saw in newspapers and people from her own life. She made me feel like I could do it, too.
Since I was Jenny’s friend, I got to see her actual office. It wasn’t in a closet anymore. It was a huge, brightly lit room with a big desk and an enormous “Gone With the Wind” poster. The covers from all her books were framed on the wall. I wanted to spend my life in an office exactly like that.
I made a few attempts at a writing career, but a box full of articles on school board meetings and a handful of chapters of a book that will never get finished doesn’t necessarily make you a writer. Not the kind I wanted to be anyway. I had to push myself to do something more.
So, I started a blog to fulfill that lifelong dream of being a writer.
What about wanting to recapture my youth? That’s another sign of a mid-life crisis, right?
In her essay “On Keeping a Notebook,” Joan Didion wrote, “I have already lost touch with a couple of people I used to be.” I’m not sure I’ve lost touch with those people, yet. They are still here. They are these little girls walking around in big lady high heels saying, “How did we end up here? Weren’t we supposed to be something by now? And why do we look like that?”
But I can feel them slipping away just a bit.
So, I started a blog to recapture my youth.
What about wanting to do something new with your life?
My friend recently bought a house, and before she bought it, she took me to see it.
It was a time capsule. I don’t think anything had changed in that house since about 1968. There were framed needlepoint pictures on the walls. There were collections of souvenir thimbles, bells and spoons. There was a typewriter. Not a computer. Just a typewriter.
In the basement was a phone hanging on the wall with a cord so long you could jump rope with it. It stretched all the way across the room to a gold velour arm-chair. I imagined someone sitting there, legs crossed, one foot bobbing, twisting that cord round and round a finger distractedly while talking on the phone.
And on the kitchen table was a bowl of wax fruit.
This “fruit” got me thinking – at what point does your life become fixed? When do you decide, “Ok, this is it. My life is exactly the way I want it?”
When do you start preserving your life with wax facsimiles?
I wonder what my house will look like when I’m old. Will I be eating off the same set of dishes and sitting on the same couch? Will that box of old Pixies cassettes and John Cusack VHS tapes still be molding in the basement?
Will I still have Converses in my closet? Or will I be wearing new-aged space boots like everyone else? Which is scarier? Can I have both?
I don’t want to quit evolving.
So, I started a blog to keep moving forward.
Is this blog my mid-life crisis?
Probably. Do I care? Nah.
Because this blog has finally helped me get that high school counselor off my back. It helped me say to those younger versions of me, “Hey, look what we’re doing!” And it helped me figure out a way to move forward and go back at the same time.
It won’t solve is my dough-ball kneecaps. But hopefully, when I’m really old and doughy, I will have a box full of something in the basement that says, “You are a writer.”