There comes a time in every girl’s life when she is faced with the reality that she is middle-aged and, god forbid, respectable. I’ve had this realisation and still haven’t come to terms with it. How could I have gone so wrong? I wasn’t designed to be middle-aged and I certainly never imagined myself as respectable, but here I am with a lovely husband, a house, two cars, two kids past high school and a dog.
When I was about eight I remember calculating how old I would be in the year 2000. At that age, the year 2000 was a science fiction event. My grade four maths brain swung into action and calculated that in the year 2000 I would be 33. What? Impossible! No one’s that age except your old relatives and the Prime Minister, right?
My little-girl mind struggled to imagine itself as a grown up. What would I look like? Would I be travelling the world with my own circus? Would I have a car and would that car be a white Ford Cobra with blue GT stripes and a really cool tape deck? Would I have lots of money and a telephone with push buttons instead of a dial? Would we all be flying around in personal spacecraft and eating dinner-flavoured capsules dispensed from a vending machine like the Jetsons did? The future seemed so weird and I wasn’t sure I actually wanted any of it – except the personal spacecraft bit.
Then life just happened. I finished school and went to university and, like a grown up, moved away from my home town, fell in love with crazy men and a few crazy women. I got a stable job and managed to make it home every other Christmas time. I eventually fell in love with Mr Right, travelled through Asia, had two beautiful children and went to sleep on the night of my 33rd birthday thinking: “This is it. This is me at 33. This is the year 2000. I was a kid and now I’m not. And I don’t have a space craft.”
Between my 33rd birthday and now, I’ve added more life events to my list and not all of them happy of course. Both our families have had their share of loss and grief, serious illness has come and gone, debt has slowed us down, parenting teenagers has provided its share of surprises. Through it all I’ve held onto the notion of myself as a free spirit, a romantic provocateur in the drama of my life, the ringmaster of my own circus. And yet, I am undeniably middle-aged and middle class and plump around the middle. Part of me still defines adulthood in the same way that eight year old who wanted a Ford Cobra did.
I think we are all in part still the kids that dreamed of being adults, aren’t we? We keep searching for THE thing that will tell us without a doubt that we have made it, we are there, we are done, we are respectable and grown up, but of course, it never arrives. How could it? Personal spacecraft haven’t been invented yet.