I posted my very first blog entry 10 years ago last week.
It was originally posted to Friendster (which, for you young ones, was an actual thing before LiveJournal was a thing and way before Facebook was the thing) but I also cross-posted it to LiveJournal when I discovered Friendster wasn’t really a blogging platform as much as it was a hookup forum and that’s not what interested me. I just wanted to write and be read.
Friendster doesn’t even exist anymore. LiveJournal, while seeing a bit of a resurgence in popularity-ish awhile back, barely exists. I sometimes wonder how much longer Blogger will hang around.
Regardless...not my point.
My point is that my very first blog entry was called “So This is 34”. Because I had just turned 34 and was at the tail end of a practice run at a midlife crisis. It mostly went like this…
Yesterday I turned 34. I didn't even so much think about the fact that it was my birthday. I mostly thought about what bare essentials I needed to bring down the mountain with me until I find a job and a place to live and have somewhere to put all my stuff. And I have a lot of stuff. What is that all about??? Can anyone please tell me why I insist on carting around a stack of half used spiral bound notebooks from college?! Wasn't it George Carlin who did the bit about how much stuff we accumulate? Or maybe I'm just thinking about the commercial for the Mile High Flea Market. Hmmm...that's an idea. Except...well truthfully, most of my "stuff" is boxes full of books and how could I part with those? They're my friends! Every few years I do try to weed out the collection, but so many are ones I read and re-read - like food, they are comfort.
Anyway, back to my point. What was my point? Oh yes. My birthday. So yesterday I filled my trunk with 2 suitcases, 3 trash bags full of clothes and shoes, my laptop and 2 assorted bags chock full o' supplements and organic foods my naturopath has prescribed for me (shhh...don't tell her about the bag of peanut M&M's that is nestled quite comfortably in between the psyllium husks and the B12 injectables) and, after a rather tearful goodbye with Ms. Kitty (for both parties), I was on my way down the mountain to re-claim my life.
THIS IS NOT A DRILL!!! Mid-life crisis (my first - drum roll please) in full swing.
So I find myself unemployed and homeless at 34 with absolutely no direction. I know I can get a job but I don't know what I want to do or be and I don't want a job that sucks just so that I have one. I sorta feel like Lloyd Dobler right now - except without the whole kickboxing thing...my legs are too short for such a sport.
I feel sort of lost right now. That'll go away in time. I'm fighting fear, fatigue, sadness, and loss. I can grieve for a relationship that I failed and one that failed me, even if I'm the one that said goodbye...right? Truth be told, I miss Antonio very much. I'd like to call him but I wouldn't know what to say. He doesn't know what to say either. It's just...complicated.
And this is a passage on the road. My sister invited me to come stay with her and her husband in WA. Be careful what you wish for, big sista! You never know what might happen. Could I eat meat at your house? More importantly, could I store and cook meat at your house? Organic, cage free, grain fed only - I promise :-). I know how to cook now even. And I clean. Plus, I'm cute and love board games. I promise not to vomit on you in your bed if you promise not to chase me about the house with a butcher knife. And I swear I'll make my bed (and yours) every day.
Ugh. What do I want to be when I grow up? Will somebody please just tell me? Besides just being me - what else is there?
Not long after I wrote that, I found a job - one with an organization who still likes me enough to continue to promote and pay me all these years later.
I never went back up the mountain to retrieve the rest of my stuff. It was donated and/or disposed of and I miss none of it. Not even the books. It was a difficult process to disconnect my internal Self from the physical stuff I’d accumulated but, once I got there in my head, it was wonderfully freeing. I’d never realized how much emotional weight could be packed so tightly in and around objects. Saying goodbye to all of that literal and figurative weight was quite possibly the single most important life lesson I’ve learned thus far. Buy what you need. Buy quality over quantity. Buy only what you are willing to pack and move. Buy experiences, not things. Because, at the end of the day, it’s the experiences I treasure. Nothing else matters except the memories.
When I wrote that entry, I had no idea there was no such thing as being a grown up. I had no idea there wouldn’t ever be a time when I wouldn’t want my mom to figure shit out for me because this life business is hard. I had no idea that my mom doesn’t have shit figured out either because she’s not a grown up anymore than I am. We’re all just...kids! We’re all just pimply, occasionally angsty adolescents costumed in business suits and graying hair saddled with sometimes ridiculously hard responsibilities we don’t know how to handle.
Being a grown up doesn’t just mean we pay our bills on time and eat vegetables with every meal.
Now I know.
And knowing lends a great deal of compassion and forgiveness to others. When I realized my expectations for the adults in my life to be capable of adulting all the time were set way too high, that there was no secret ritual/rite of passage/adulting handbook I would eventually be privy to when I finally FINALLY entered adulthood, I could understand and forgive them for not adulting very well.
I’m 44 as of last week.
I know a whole lot more than that girl who came tumbling back to reality in 2006 - emotionally beaten and bruised and confused - who was actually ready to learn, live, love, trust, and grow after hiding herself away, trying not to be noticed just in case the consequences of being noticed were going to be painful, for too many years.
I know pain is part of it now. Pain is an important part of it. So is grief and inexpressible joy.
I know that sometimes I’m a great friend and sometimes I’m a shitty friend and, while that’s not necessarily OK, it’s human and that is OK...to be human with faults that sometimes lead to hurting other people. If I have hurt you, I am so very sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt you. Really. I swear. Please, if you can, forgive me.
I know that growing up isn’t a destination. It’s a process we never complete.
I know that age isn’t just a number but a reminder of just how fast 30, 40, 50 years can pass...and that counting down the days to Friday eventually feels pretty scary when you realize there aren’t that many more Fridays left.
I know that the best friendships are the most enduring ones. The ones that started when you were 4 (Andrew and Liz), or 10 (Brad), or 12 (Mr. Bliss), or 15 (Beasley and the Divine Ms. D. and Darling Nykki). That these are the friends, decades later, you will love the most because you’ve loved them the longest. That these are the friends who, decades later, still think you’re cool, even when your mom doesn’t.
I know that, even now, therapy is still a thing I occasionally need...if only to remind me that I’ve already been there, worked through that, and received the t-shirt.
I know that purple hair, at 44, is weird and uncomfortable and laughable for those under 30 who see it and think I’m little-old-lady-cute, and a RECOGNIZE moment for those over 40 who see it...and get it.
I know love is a many splendored thing and that, while those who are lucky enough to have found enduring love are to be envied, there is something to be said for those of us who experience love in short, intense bursts.
I know that sharing a bathroom, the older we get, is a very big deal. And that, if we don’t really, truly, wholeheartedly love the person with whom we share a bathroom, we’ll resent them. Forever. Thanks, Mom. I get that now.
I know that 34-year-old Jane saw a whole life ahead of her.
I know that 44-year-old Jane sees more than half of her life behind her. Wondering...am I living up to Thoreau’s expectations?
“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms.”
This is 44.
Jane...In My Infinite Wisdom
Jane...In My Infinite Wisdom