Midlife crisis. This is one of those things that I never thought would happen to me and I’m actually not convinced it is happening, but hear me out.
When I think of a mid-life crisis, I think more of the version you see in movies or in the general media, where the balding and maybe slightly overweight guy goes and buys a Corvette or some other dumb, expensive toy, then gets divorced and starts acting like a 16 year old. That’s not me. At all. OK sometimes I act like a 12 year old, but I’ve been doing that since……12.
Wikipedia defines mid-life crisis pretty simply:
A midlife crisis is a transition of identity and self-confidence that can occur in early middle aged individuals.
Now this is a little closer, but even then……I don’t know. I think the transition of identity piece is spot on. Self-confidence? Not really. While I’m not pompous or over-confident, I know my strengths and weaknesses and have come to grips with them. So let’s focus on the transition of identity piece. I know my blog lately has been a lot of marketing and internet talk, but today I’m talking about me.
I think this may have begun when I accepted my current job. Headquarters for the company I work for is in Devens, MA and we also have another location in Sterling, MA. This is just 5 mins from places like Leominster and 10 or so minutes from Lancaster, the town where I grew up.
As a result, I’ve been eating lunches on High St. in Clinton and up at Meadowbrook Orchard in Lancaster/Sterling, which was almost literally my backyard. After spending so much time in Boston after college and then moving out to Maynard in 2003, I hadn’t really been to those parts anymore. My parents and sister moved out of the area in 2005-ish, so it had been 10+ years since I waltzed through.
But now I drive through these places somewhat regularly and I remember so many things from childhood.
- All up and down South Meadow Rd., where I grew up. So much running around in the woods there.
- Excitedly ripping the plastic off new vinyl albums on my bedroom floor and hearing new music.
- Beach Point Rd. Baseball in the circle w/ whiffle balls and tennis balls.
- Intellivison at Stewarts. Crawling through a drain pipe all the way to a Sewer grate near Cassen’s.
- Accidentally lighting the South Meadow woods on fire with my friend Keith.
- My grandparents house in Clinton. Treasured memories there.
- The X-Tra Mart, where I used to ride my bike so many times and steal milk crates to store my hockey cards. On the way, I used to pump my legs so hard they hurt on that bike, because I’d have to ride right by the “projects” on Fitch Rd.
- My paper route. Such a clear memory of that maroon ten-speed with the fading tape on the handlebars, that one house that had parrots….and a few others that had mean dogs.
- The Memorial School. The Middle School (felt sadness seeing the Memorial School today).
- Bruce Kuehn’s house on 117, where I slept over a bunch and had a lot of laughs with him and his dad.
- Sterling Ice Cream Bar.
- Working at Shaws/Food World.
- Walking through the orchards out back all the way up to Meadowbrook.
- Walking and biking around the Wachusett Reservoir all the way to the Clinton Dam. By myself.
I know, I know. This is totally boring if you’re not from the area, so I will stop there. But you have these memories of your places, too. And don’t get me wrong, not all the memories are great. That’s life.
The key point is that some memories are so clear and….right there in the old style filmstrip clicking in my brain. The fabric that wove together the elements of that part of my life. Right there as I drive by now.
So while I find myself smiling at some of the memories, it also kind of hurts. It hurts that those days of almost no responsibility are gone. The freedom and liberation of just running around with the breeze on either side of me.
That I can’t just rotary dial five numbers and call Bruce, Don, Neil, Jim, Gregg (or whomever) and just do something on a whim.
Oh, I know I can call friends today and do stuff. But it’s not even close to the same. Those of you my age know it. That feeling. That unstoppable, liberating feeling of no responsibility. I don’t want it again, because the stakes are higher now……and the rewards better. But it hangs there. That feeling.
The pot of memories are being stirred and it’s moving me somehow. Let me be clear – I don’t feel like I need to buy anything ridiculous or start partying like a teenager or whatever. But yeah, “transition of identity?” I think that’s happening, especially as I watch my kids growing, creating their own memories and I realize that I’m now the one who is forty-whatever and greying. The grown-up. The transition. All these memories have stamped it into place.
Is that a midlife crisis? Or just normal emotions of a guy who is experiencing his hometown a full generation later? I don’t know. But it’s meaningful. Interesting. Fun. And yeah, a little sad. Like life.
I love that this also gives me a chance to embed one of my favorite Faith No More songs, too. So let’s do that. For old times sake.