At a point in life when many of my high school buddies are at or near retirement and contemplating coasting through the rest of their lives, I’m climbing another flight of stairs. Each of those guys is sitting on some metaphorical deck, or maybe the real deck on his paid-for house with his first and only wife of thirty or more years sitting beside him. Two are recalling stories of their kids growing up. One of them might even be a grandparent now, a thought I can't wrap my head around. My first wife is a grandmother, my second has a son in high school and my third has dogs, the only living things she really cares about. My only female friend from high school, who was also my high school girlfriend, is married to somebody who has mostly retired and she is counting the few years left to hitting that marker herself. Their house is paid for and their kids are out of college.
I'm about to be single again and the house I thought I'd pay off and live in the rest of my life will not be mine much longer. I'll be living in the neighborhood where I want to live, enjoying a version of the life I want to have, hanging onto a job typically held by someone twenty years younger than I am and scared to death of what happens when that job finally ends. I'll be alone again, a condition I am usually comfortable with but not always. I'll be dating again, which is just so ridiculous because I don't even know what that means any more. My awesome female friends will still hang out with me but most are much younger than I am and will probably disappear if I try to turn any of that 'hanging out' into 'dating'.
I usually don’t care about that stuff, but sometimes I do. And I don't really like ambiguity. I want clarity, yet that kind of conversation is somewhere between awkward and stupid, and rarely clear. Dating in my own age range, or even the age I admit, seems so foolish. And before any of this stuff really happens, I will be cruising down a dirt road full of obstacles and bumps, totally trusting my instincts, knowing, hoping, I'll get back on the paved road I expect to find. And that part of my journey will kick in the occasional bouts of depression I hate to admit having.
I know there are professionals who can help me. I have encouraged three different friends to utilize that option themselves in the past few months, but ignore my own advice when it comes to doing the same myself. I know what's wrong in my head and heart and I know what to do about it. Discussing it endlessly with a total stranger won't be any more effective than having those conversations in my own head. I need action not discussion. But who has the time – for either professional counseling or for internal contemplation?
It all sucks and I will wallow in it for a few days or weeks, then I'll climb out, take a metaphorical shower and charge out the door, climb that staircase and start my next chapter. I started this post as an ode (or whine) to depression. As I re-read this, I think maybe it'll serve to remind me that I always find the path to what I want, often after crawling through the underbrush. I am the guy who figures it out. I am the optimist, the success story, the role model for designing a great life.
We're born alone, we die alone and right now I feel like I'm living very alone, despite having some wonderful, supportive friends. All this crap sucks, but I know things will be fine. I just want it all to be fine NOW and now weeks, months or years from now.