Over the weekend Drew and I celebrated eleven years since our blind date that started it all. That’s eleven years that I have essentially been off the market and not dating around. That’s a long time, and yet, ‘lest you think I’ve totally lost perspective and couldn’t possibly imagine what it’s like to be single and looking for Mr. or Ms. Right, we’ve been house-hunting for about a year and a half and I don’t think it’s all that dissimilar. There’s the online cruising (in my case, instead of Tinder and Match and eHarmony, it’s Zillow and Trulia and Streeteasy); there’s the introduction (an open house for me instead of a first date); there’s the falling in love — the excitement and imagining a future together; there’s the heartache when it doesn’t work out, the frustration over how long it’s taking and the hopelessness that it won’t ever happen; there’s the envy over everyone else who has what I’m looking for (or at least what seems like a good match for them); and there’s the existential worry that maybe I don’t know what I’m looking for after all, or maybe what I thought I was looking for isn’t what I’m meant to be seeking.
I’m seeing an astrologer on Thursday to hopefully get a sense of clarity about this situation. If that sounds desperate or weird, whatever, that’s where I’m at right now. I had an appointment with my endocrinologist yesterday where she told me my labs were perfect, and I was like, “Really?! But I’m so tired all the time! And hungry! And I’ve been feeling more anxious than usual lately.” I thought for sure my thyroid could be to blame. “But I do have some general life stress,” I told her when she reiterated that my levels looked good, “So, maybe that’s it.” She asked if everything was ok, and I started yammering about this and that, including our real estate woes and kid-related stress (the two things that take up about 90% of my brain space lately). “You’re talking to someone though, right?” she asked. Um, duh, I thought. I’m talking to you. “Oh, yeah, yeah,” I lied. “Good, because it’s important to take care of yourself, too,” she said. I nodded. I didn’t tell her I was seeing an astrologer on Thursday.
Anyway, I’ve noticed something though. What I’m feeling — I guess you could call it a bit of a midlife crisis although it feels less dramatic and sexy than that (what, you don’t think a midlife crisis is sexy? Haven’t you seen the cars men buy and the women they start sleeping with when they have their midlife crises?) — what I’m feeling is like what 75% of my girlfriends who are between the ages of 38-42 are talking about (and the 25% who aren’t are probably just dead inside). Not all of us are house-hunting, but there is a sort of general “searching” happening — like we’ve been on these life paths for a while and now we’re at a point where we feel like we need to decide whether to stay on the same path or maybe veer off to a different course. The stakes feel higher now than they did 15 years ago when we were having our quarter-life crises: many of us have kids; we’re further along in our careers; we have spouses’ needs and goals to factor; we’re starting to notice some changes in our health and bodies and are beginning to think about the longterm and how best to preserve what we’ve got and maintain optimum health for the long haul.
I think it really is a sort of modern-day midlife crisis and, at least in this part of the world and in my socio-economic demographic, it’s pretty prevalent. We’re all at an age where we think we should be putting some roots down, especially if we have youngish children. If we already own a place, we’re realizing that our family is likely going to outgrow it in the next few years. If we don’t already own a place, even that in itself is the cause for a little anxiety. There’s nothing wrong with renting forever — we might end up doing that! — but by a certain age, and with kids you want to provide some sense of stability for, home ownership does start to seem the better option.
Unfortunately, where we live the real estate prices are fucking insane. Like INSANE. And even if you can, somehow, swing it, you question your sanity about trying. But to think about where else you might go is overwhelming. After all, for a lot of us, where we are right now — where we’ve lived for 10, 15, 20 years, where our kids were born, where they go to school, where we have jobs and friends and families and lives — is our Home with a capital H. To think of uprooting and starting over somewhere else is daunting. But, damn, so is the idea of staying, too.
Other things so many women my age are talking about are: their careers and how they want a different one; their relationship struggles; how they don’t like the clothes in their wardrobe anymore and don’t know what their style even is now; sleep and how to get more; and giving up sugar for a while. Seriously, is it just my circle of friends and acquaintances, or are you seeing this, too? Everyone wants to go on a sugar cleanse. Hey, more power to them, but I went to five open houses yesterday with two small kids in the pouring rain and I’m gonna eat my chocolate.
Anyway, where was I?
Oh yeah: House-hunting is like dating. And being 40, while great in a lot of ways, does seem to bring some existential questioning I wasn’t really prepared for. The good news — besides the idea that an astrologer is totally going to give me all the answers this week — is that my friends who are 43+ seem much more at ease. If it is, in fact, a midlife crisis those of us around 38-42 are experiencing, then anecdotal evidence suggests to me that the crisis peaks close to 40 or 41, and then concludes by 42, after which one goes back to having regular, run-of-the-mill anxieties, like gray hairs and pooping in public bathrooms, which I’m pretty excited about (not the pooping in public bathrooms, but simply having some extra shits to give towards shitting in public because I won’t be giving any shits to all this other bullshit — in theory).
So, what about you? Are you experiencing something like a mid-life crisis? Does your husband/wife/life partner annoy the shit out of you (not that mine does — I’m not saying that, Drew!). Do you not like anything in your wardrobe anymore? Do you catch yourself admiring the Eileen Fisher section at the store and wondering who you even are? Are you on a sugar cleanse? Are you also house-hunting, and do you want to cry? Are you 43+ and can you attest that this, too, shall pass and things will go back to being normal(ish) soon, public pooping anxiety and all?