This strikes me as especially true as I approach 40. Not because I’m turning 40…this part thrills me, but because I spent most of my childhood being 40. Youth really is wasted on the young. Sigh.
I wanted so bad to be a grown up. I genuinely compared myself to the adults in my life and thought, “I could do that”. And I did. I cared for my Cabbage Patch Kids as if they were the actual fruit of my loins. I waylaid your typical grade 5 plans to shop for and make my dolls as comfortable as possible. I saved my money and was entirely too thrifty for a child. I routinely checked in on the adults in my life, on the adults in other people’s life. I excused myself from watching movies over a PG rating (I was not overly popular as a sleep over companion, go figure) and I banished myself to a time out when I felt I had wronged my parents (this usually included not telling on my brothers and sisters for stealing the cupcakes. It killed me to keep quiet. They generally had to hold my Cabbage Patch Kids hostage to keep my silence). Go on and ask my mom, my nature was to comply, comply, comply.
I kind of want to kick my child self in the face.
I have discovered something as I round the corner of middle age – life will bore the hell out of you if you let it. There is ample opportunity to be responsible and planful and status quo. We are encouraged and rewarded to follow the norms. I don’t want to suggest that I support anarchy theory (entirely), I still pay my bills, raised some fairly well adjusted children (?) and go to work mostly on time every day. I vote and pay my small dividend for a foreign foster child. I would be all talk if I told you I had totally bucked the suburban dream. I have a garden gnome for the love of all things mediocre…
But…I have developed a taste for the good things in life – and I don’t mean Yachts or expensive champagne (though I will cruise topless on a boat any day…just saying). I mean the good part of life that does not require approval from society at large. Drinking wine out of plastic glasses, or dare I say right out of the bottle. Snort laughing my way through a line up at the passport office with my friends. Wearing clashing colours. Putting my hair in pigtails and sporting bright lipstick. Asking the bartender if he knows what a Pussy Riot is. Offering an 18 year old a “motor boat” on his birthday as a rite of passage into manhood. Asking customer service at Wal Mart to announce my search for my partner “Oliver Klozoff”.
There is something very freeing about being free. Something my younger self would have been horrified at. Something I am sure my children will be equally horrified to read about their mother. The thing is the consequences I have had to reap for the above behaviours….is nothing. No one removed my children for neglect or abuse (though they may have wished to be removed for embarrassment at times). My mortgage was still valid and indeed expected to be paid. I was still able to arrive at work and put in a semi productive if not ambitious day. I live the same life as my neighbours….except way more fun. (I know this because they gossip about me like magazines do about celebrities. Flattering right?) And I just cannot accept going back to mainstream. I would miss this life way too much despite it having characteristics of living on the Island of Misfit Toys. Because true to the picture above…being older sucks. Gravity is not kind. Regrets are devastating. Time is fleeting. Be ridiculous and laugh. Find joy in places that age cannot influence. There is no greater truth than regretting the things you didn’t do. So go do them. I’ve got movies to attend with a flask of Sake and contraband candy hidden in my pocket. Carpe Diem!