I find myself in something of a cliché—a difficult, complicated everyday life fraught with feelings, emotions, relationship issues, and logistical complexities. And here I sit typing into WordPress.
Obviously, what’s required is airy-yet-razor-sharp Zen-like prose that is by turns reflective, expansive, and able to dissect the tiniest of moment-to-moment specimens. Witty similes and self-depricating paragraphs that show me to be sophisticated, urbane, yet also open and self-reflective, an accidental yet wise guru in the midst of meaningful personal crises, an uncanny mix of the immature problem-creator and hip-yet-old-soul modernite.
It’s all the fault of Sex and the City and Penelope Trunk, all of these expectations.
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Fact is, it’s all bullshit.
When you’re actually faced with it, those bloggers and columnists and Pinterest quotes don’t seem half as wise, self-aware, or sharp as they do before you’re faced with it.
Fact is, we’ve been playing house. Cookie cutter situations with cookie cutter platitutes to get us out of them for years, then a lot of feeling oh-so-grown up about our prowess in living and “surviving” and “thriving” through “hard times.”
Well if you’re not legitimately worried that all of life is at stake and nobody, not a single person, has any control over it, then you’ve not had hard times. Hard times cannot be controlled. Hard times don’t answer to anyone; they are a force straight from darkness, and they will have their way with everyone involved. The humans’ job is to navigate and to cling to life and love with everything they have, nothing more.
These are hard times. These things now. And the easy platitudes and nuclear family poses now seem silly to me. My self of a few months ago seems silly to me, the way a pre-teen’s first kiss anxieties seem to a worldly seventeen-year-old.
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Now we have real things to work through. Things without answers, without roadmaps. It’s up to us to solve them, or up to use to refuse or fail to solve them, and real lives, our own included, hang in the balance.
Platitutes, conventional wisdom, and Norman Rockwell paintings are useless here.
We’re not playing house any longer. Now, for the first time, we’ve grown up, adults with adult problems requiring adult behavior, adult decisions and with adult consequences. Suddenly it’s so clear to me just how adolescent the entirety of our society and its norms are.
All of America is playing house, or playing hipster, or playing sporty young person, or playing Sex and the City. Everyone is comfortable and safe enough to play well into their thirties and beyond.
I’m not playing any longer. We’re not playing any longer. Suddenly, we’re past the games, unwritten rules, and prizes. Everything is at issue and everything is up for grabs, and there’s not a Pinterest meme in the entire Internet that can help us.
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You know you’ve grown up when you stop searching for answers because you know that (a) you won’t find them anywhere, and (b) nobody is asking you for an answer—only for decisions and actions. Only for living, day to day and moment to moment, in all its messiness and with all its consequences.
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I turn 40 in just under two months. It took me until 40 to grow up. I don’t envy the children of previous generations and epochs who had lives that were precarious enough to grow up two or more decades earlier.
At the same time, I also don’t envy the bearded Brooklyn lumberjacks and Carrie Bradshaw types that will continue to take themselves unjustifiably seriously well into old age, simply for lack of real adult problems.
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I don’t know where that leaves me. I suppose it leaves me awake at 11:59 on the last day of the annual winter holidays, blogging entries that few, if any, will ever read and missing and loving and accepting my wife even while wondering if (and hoping that) she’ll be my wife for the duration.
With two small, innocent souls snoring audibly nearby.