I went out with a bunch of fun-loving, vibrant women last night. (I was stoked because I had an excuse to wear something on my feet other than flip flops.) The seven of us–mothers, daughters, and friends ranging in age from the early 20s to somewhere in the 50s–had sushi and drinks and a generally fabulous time getting sloshed and shooting the bull and laughing. First, though, we did our duty as heterosexual females and went to see Magic Mike, the current girls’-night-out male-stripper flick starring Matthew McConaughey and Channing Tatum. It was what we thought it would be: kind of a flimsy storyline; heavy on hot, thrusty male anatomy; plenty easy on the eyes. What surprised me was that instead of just getting all hot and bothered by the sexy dudes shakin’ they thangs, I found myself feeling worried and sad for the young, innocent new guy in more of a motherly sort of way. I mean, when he said to his new-found mentor after a dizzying day of adventure, “Dude, I think we should be best friends,” it was so kidlike and sweet and pathetic that I wanted to jump into the screen and hug him like a son.
I came home exhilarated from actually getting out and socializing, ladies-on-the-town-style, but I also felt more like a middle-aged gal than ever.
Not that that’s bad in itself. I’ve previously posted on the joys of getting older, in fact. It’s just that I’ve noticed myself experiencing some symptoms lately that seem like mourning–for the young-thing version of myself, for the acceleration of time, for the newness and the exhilaration that seem to be missing from my days lately.
I’m pretty sure I’m having a midlife crisis.
For one thing, I really do want a sports car! Well, not really a sports car, but a cute little new car that I can zip around in with the stereo turned up so loud I feel like I’m drowning in a sea of music while being bludgeoned with a bass guitar–in a good way, I mean. A car that will be mine and only mine. Any trash left on the floorboards will be my fault and no one else’s. A moon roof is a plus. And when I get it, I will use it to find new places and do new things, because everything seems disturbingly old hat right now.
Also, I used to think I’d never have any “work” done, but lately I’ve been giving myself cheek and neck and eyebrow lifts in the mirror to see if it might help. I’m finding myself, simultaneously and paradoxically, more comfortable with my looks and more disgusted by them. Just once in my life I want to feel light and effortless and cute, but it’s getting to be too late, because once you pass 40, “cute” becomes more elusive, and maybe even a little bit silly. Still, I keep trying, only to see the photos later and think, wow, life’s been rougher than I thought….
….which brings me to the mourning part. I’m the first to admit that I enjoy gazing upon young, beautiful male specimens of gorgeousness. Why do you think I watch baseball, for goodness’ sake? What’s tough to accept is the fact that the playing field is no longer level and these guys now see me not as just a girl or woman, but more as a mom, or a cougar, or–I don’t know–a doppleganger of their old yard-duty teacher, maybe even! I’m a happily married woman, but everybody likes to look, and seeing that movie last night, followed by noticing the age gap between me and almost every male we encountered out on the town afterwards (including the guys who kindly shared an oyster shooter with the 50th-birthday girl in our group), made me more aware of the near-complete passing of my youth than ever.
And if my youth has passed, so has that of most of my friends, and definitely that of my parents, and what’s also passing is a world where I know what people are talking about and where I haven’t yet become a one-step-behind, gray-haired foreigner in society.
But what can I do? Time’s gonna pass, no matter what. I think my best choice is to employ that Buddhist technique of acknowledging my mourning and experiencing it with detachment so as to ease its effect on my already roller-coastery moods. Then I’ll just concentrate on having as awesome a time as I can at every age I reach. My husband and I have talked about aspiring to be eccentric, free-spirited old folks, so I guess I’d better get to work on that. I mean, he’s way ahead of me in that department at this point.