Oh goddamn, I think I’m having a mid-life crisis. I just turned 46 this month, so I’m not quite at mid-life, but whatever. I find that I am questioning who I am these days, and what I’m doing. I’m thinking back to who I was when I was in high school, and in college, and wondering where that person went.
In short, all the clicheed, stereotyped things guys my age are supposed to kvetch about.
When I was 24 and in college, I lived by myself in a little on-campus apartment. I had long hair. I rode a motorcycle. (I kept it in my living room, too!) I actually had visible abs…not that I cultivated them in any way, shape or form. I ate whatever the hell I wanted. I played. Between classes, in the evenings and on weekends…I played. I perfected paper airplanes that I could shoot straight up with a rubber band, and which would then glide for 100 yards in the parking lot. I made a dart-gun from a Super Soaker watergun. A friend and I created and played a role-playing game. I walked around the campus with a yo-yo, and got pretty good at Walking the Dog and Around the World. Once, I pulled off a Cat’s Cradle. Once.
Now? I’m one of six in the house. What hair I still have is respectably short. I own the motorcycle, but it didn’t make the trip from Michigan to Florida with us, five years ago. Abs…I just have to laugh. A sad, mocking laugh. And I don’t play — or at least, it’s rare enough that when I do, the kids go nuts about it.
So, which of these things still matter? I don’t really miss the hair — I like that it can’t physically look bad now, and I do nothing with it in the morning, so short hair serves my purposes. Abs are a thing of the past — I weigh about 80lbs more than I did then — but I try to watch how much I eat, and exercise on occasion, though my heart’s not really in it. Eating like a freakin’ horse is the one place I’m still a 16-year-old, I think.
I miss the motorcycle. Not because of the bike itself, or any kind of image thing, but because riding it was something I truly loved to do. It was my therapy. I could leave for a ride in any kind of foul mood, and come back relaxed and happy. That’s gone — and has been since the twins were born over 9 years ago.
And that leaves the play. I think I miss that the most. A grown man with a family and a 9-5 job isn’t expected to play. Throw out what other people expect, and there just isn’t time most days. I really only get a couple of hours per day that I’m not getting ready for work, driving, working, doing chores or helping with family care. And those couple of hours are generally after everyone else in the house has gone to bed…can’t play a game with the kids if they’re sleeping. Can’t do anything loud if my wife is out cold.
I think if college-me met current-me, college-me would call me an ass-clown and ride off on our motorcycle.