HORIZONTAL MYSTERY SHIP when you leave at seventeen rarely home more than two weeks at a time months, years and decades can be surprisingly unreliable markers of adulthood only once in the summer of ‘88 a recent college grad wide-eyed and wanderlust-fueled my tonsils required more I stayed a whole month once healed, packed, and in possession of necessary visas off to the southern hemisphere a young pioneer in search adventure and different stars now, when visiting after a lifetime lived elsewhere grey hairs visible no matter my efforts I find myself sliding into a peculiar second adolescence of sorts driving Dad’s truck windows down, hair blowing mile after mile of expansive, wild beauty the prairie a determined cellular homesteader forever staking a claim in my blood and bones I want to sneak out to the bar play Space Invaders sadly, no longer a standard unlike 1982 drink beer, eat junk food and avoid the endless expectations of being a grown-up Looking back with midlife sensibilities I realize those late nights in high school tenth grade, I believe laser focused, playing Space Invaders provided a surprisingly valuable education initials entered, quarters stacked protect the bunkers, defeat the aliens monitor the horizontal mystery ship with vigilance my peripheral vision unknowingly trained to notice things beyond immediate scope bonus points pinged while friends waited impatiently twenty more minutes, please under a waning August moon only one lunar phase ago I was still my father’s daughter a middle-aged, South Dakota teenager pretending time actually plays tricks wanting desperately to disregard reality one more visit on the calendar one more phone call cheeseburger or ice cream cone one more evening watching Everybody Loves Raymond M.A.S.H. or Mayberry RFD twenty more minutes, please quarters stacked no longer Space Invaders the nearly forgotten teenage relic of a heartbroken fifty-something fatherless daughter once again, I am protecting my bunkers monitoring a new horizontal mystery ship paying very close attention to what's just beyond my immediate scope just twenty more minutes, please
After visiting my family in Burke, South Dakota (population 670ish) last week I’ve returned home to Vermont and made a few discoveries. I thought I’d share them and maybe you’ve experienced something similar at some point in your life. As always, I would love to have you shoot me an e-mail and share your thoughts.
This is a mash-up of where I’ve spent the most time in my life.
South Dakota/23 years • Vermont/25 years • Massachusetts/Lots of summers/holidays
1) As a nearly 49 year old woman (October 12th) I no longer visit my childhood home feeling like a child. It helps when my husband comes with me. I feel more in touch with my adult life…and much less so when it’s just me and the kids.
2) My children are rapidly growing up and I’m no longer a parent of “young kids”. GOOD.
3) I don’t feel particularly old except that I need “readers” in every damn room.
4) I basically like who I’ve grown to become AND I know that I’ll spend the rest of my life getting to know myself better. I’m up for the challenge and hopefully the people I’ve chosen to date are up for it too.
5) Life isn’t easy and sometimes during the hard stuff all we can do is “show up” for our people. However, the hard stuff makes you grow and the good stuff is just pretty wonderful. And I’m slowly learning (very slowly) to let the bullshit slide. It isn’t worth my energy now.
6) At this age I am more deliberate about my time, my people and choices. I think “deliberate” feels awesome in nearly every context.
7) Sometimes this age feels like a second adolescence. I like it, my twin daughters and I are in it together—which is sometimes adorable and sometimes really NOT…but always interesting. One day they will find it all very funny, I think.
the period following the onset of puberty during which a young person develops from a child into an adult.OR, the period before menopause when you no longer have to take care of little kids, naps are OK, preparing meals is optional & you worry a helluva lot less about what people think.
This photo is our shared sorrow over the end of the “van years”. I had to fake my sadness, actually. I now drive a VW Passat and I don’t really miss my van…except maybe listening to movies on road trips. But, now we listen to the TED Radio Hour, This American Life and The Moth on NPR. We save them up for our trips and they always provide remarkable discussions.
Here are a few links you might enjoy:
A great TED Talk on aging: http://www.npr.org/2015/06/19/414999589/why-should-we-look-forward-to-getting-older
This is an interesting site that was referenced on the TED Radio Hour last week—Stanford Center on Longevity. http://longevity3.stanford.edu/