I have decided to live to be exactly 88, at which point I will drop dead onto the tarmac. I plan to have wispy tufts of lavender hair not actually covering much of my shiny smooth cap of scalp. I will be sporting a generous dollop of crooked-y pink lipstick, some on my lips and some smeared across my teeth, because, even at 88, I am not going gently into that good night.
I will be wearing an aggressively lime green pants suit. (Yes, leisure suits will have come back by then. Based on the 80’s pleated front blouses I am seeing EVERYWHERE, every awful fashion thing comes back eventually. ) SO, yes, I see me in one, a synthetic fabric suit as shiny and plasticene as an Easter egg, dropping stone dead approximately forty-four years from now.
My life is half over, best beloveds, which explains my recent behavior. Look, here is my midlife crisis:
It is all yellow brick with purple shutters. It is in Decatur. It is under contract to me, and in exactly 22 days, I will close on it and own it and go live there, taking with me these things:
Maybe I will even take a freaking Boggart, if I can’t trick the people who buy our house here into thinking he is a perk. (On the house flier, I asked our realtor to put: “With good offer, the Fridge and the Boggart stay.”)
I will also be taking about a third of my stuff. Maybe even more like 25%, really. Because out here in what used to be the hinterlands, I have well over 3000 square feet PLUS a HUGE attic and 2 HUGE storage rooms and a double garage we can’t actually get a car in because it is full of crap. HA!
The new house? It started its life in 1950, as a two bedroom one bath brick bungalow with a living/dining combo, a kitchen, and a small keeping room. Since then, a master suit has been built into the attic and a home office has been added to the back, but I would not call it a LARGE house. It is just under 1800 square feet of living space with no garage and no basement and only two little dollops of attic for storage.
I am in the process of selling, giving away, donating, and as a last resort trashing close to 70% of ALL THE HORRID CRAP WE OWN. It. Feels. So. Freaking. Good.
Here is the thing. However much space I get? I fill it. With crap. Worse, one of the MANY facets of my diamond-like, delightfully shiny-hard and multi-surfaced mental illness is the thing where if I cannot see a thing, it stops existing. Almost immediately. For example, here is how I make waffles:
I get a whim to make waffles. I go to Target and invest $13.59 in a pink George Foreman waffle maker. I make the waffles, eat the waffles, think to myself, “Where can this waffle maker go?,” choose the most logical spot for a waffle maker, go to put mine away in this newly chosen spot, only to find the space is already CRAWLING with pink George Foreman waffle makers from all the other times I had a waffle whim and bought a maker which then got put away and so immediately ceased to exist in my memory.
Well LORD we can’t afford country-sized living space in the city unless we sell all four of our kidneys. SO! We looked at all the space we ACTUALLY USED on a regular basis, the rooms we actually inhabit, the items we actually need for daily life, and we found a house we could afford with exactly that much particular type of space.
Everything else is flotsam and is in the process of being jetsammed.
My house here is under contract, too, and so my bridges, they are firmly burned up behind me.
Do you realize I said we should think about doing this to Scott ONE MONTH AGO. Like April 3rd.
LESS than one month ago, Scott must have realized he would drop dead at 90, and so he said OH YEAH WE SHOULD, and now all the troops are mobilized, the kids are giddy with alternating excitement and nerves, and the dogs have NO idea anything is happening and just want new rawhide chewies, thanks.
This feels like a family adventure— here we go, willy nilly, throwing most of what we own into an abyss and changing up our lives. Scott and I are tritty-trit-trotting joyously together into our nerd-version of the iconic sports car, the boob job, the toupee, the ill-conceived re-wardrobing at Forever 21, or the quickie in Shell Station restroom with a twenty-six old grad student named Delilah or Sven, depending. Why, the not getting gas station VD ALONE makes this a fine, FINE choice for a mid-life crisis.
I’m a little shell shocked. I am a little surprised at us. When did we grow a chutzpah?
True fact: We have calmly over dinner talked about our unhappiness with the loss of piglets and the gain of urban creep around us, and then IMMEDIATELY stated all the reasons why moving was not possible for us, because it is EASIER to just sit in a place where you are unhappy than it is to pack up the china and take financial risks and leap into space and CHANGE things.Why is it SO EASY to look at other people and say: WHY doesn’t she LEAVE HIM he is so AWFUL to her, and WHY does he stay in this job when it is making his heart explode with rage and tension, and WHY does she let her sister in her house only to be berated and abused, and WHY does he always pick to date the craziest girl in the room who tears him open and leaves him bleeding on the roadside where he lies until he can find another crazy awful exactly identical one to do it again.
It is so EASY to see how a change would fix all the lives I am not living, and meanwhile, I sat here for ten years, saying out loud to my friends, THESE PEOPLE I SEE SHOULD MAKE A CHANGE HOW HARD IS IT? and also SAYING OUT LOUD to my friends how deeply unhappy I was, and yet sitting in it, like a miserable frog in a pot of hot water, boiling myself because it was so much easier and less risky than HOPPING. There was no COMPELLING terror to move me — It is not a bad place, where we live. Lots of people love it. It is safe and pretty and full of trees and not a bad commute, if you work in town. SO we sat here.
This month? Scott and I grabbed hands and freaking hopped, baby, BOOM, fast, like ripping off a band-aid, before I could think too much. Before I could lose my nerve and talk myself out of it. And all it took was the certain knowledge that I am going to be ABSOLUTELY BE DEAD, sooner rather than later; in about ten minutes, actually, if my meager last 44 years speed up exponentially as my first 44 have done.
Who knew that one’s own terrible mortality could be so dern useful?
So, Best Beloveds, what about you? Is there a POSSIBLE thing you KNOW would improve your your life that you talk about but never do? Possible is the key word here. I mean, I want to own a Vinyard in the South of France and ride around it on a pink pony with wings. But I have good actual reasons why that won’t happen, like, not speaking French, hating vines, not being a millionaire, and that kind of pony not existing. I am asking, is there a thing you WANT to change, or that you know secretly you NEED to change, but that you will not walk toward out of inertia or terror or because you have just not yet quite realized that you CAN?
Or have you done this? Packed up the china and changed your life, for good or ill, bravely bravely and with beauty? DID IT WORK OUT? Are you GLAD? (And if it ruined your life, could you please comfortingly lie and pretend it didn’t?)