In the middle of my life I found myself in a dark wood,
where the true way was wholly lost. ~Dante
In my late 40’s I had the notion that I had entered my mid-life crisis. I became aware of my aging, aware that my body was changing. But that was nothing. I see that now. That was just the intimations of mortality, not the real, full-blown, lost at sea, freak-out mid-life crisis. NOW I’m in my mid-life crisis, and I know this based upon the following:
- My face (and the rest of me) is melting slowly, like a frosted cake left out on a warm day. A slow, oozy, heavy sort of melting onto the plate, except there’s no plate.
- The only men who look at me at the grocery store are old. I’m super hot among the septuagenarian crowd. The men I find attractive are looking at 30-year-olds, not moi. It’s a cold, hard reality. I’m married, which is some relief, but I still have eyes. I can still see what’s happening and what’s not, and what’s not happening, stinks.
- I go to the store without make-up and in my mom jeans. I’m mostly okay with this. It’s a giving up. Which may have something to do with #2, above.
- I bought a car. It’s not red convertible, but … well, it’s a story.
(I’m confessing what follows because my husband says I need to start writing from a more real and vulnerable — read embarrassing — place. He says it’s time to start a new sort of blog, and that I’ll be a HUGE hit if I get less “teachy” and more irreverent and personal. I think he’s right on the first count, and hoping so on the second. So for my long-standing readers out there, all ten of you, I hope you’ll hang in with me. I hope you like this new style. If you don’t, well, please don’t tell me. I’m in a fragile place.)
Last fall I got it in my head that I wanted a new car. This idea popped up during a perfect storm of my husband getting a more secure job that was to start in January, my car passing 120,000 miles and beginning to have issues, and a brief window of personal optimism. So I decided to get rid of my Prius — an excellent car in every way — and get something else, something more me. Which is where the problem began because I don’t know who I am any more. But I know who I used to be, and who I used to be really loved her black BMW, so I bought myself a black BMW. From Texas. Because I couldn’t find the exact model I wanted — with my 47 specific requirements, chief among them that it had cost no more than $20,000 — locally.
Well, the shiny, black, midlife crisis mobile arrived last week, and I sold my little white tin can the next day to a super nice gay guy who was over-the-moon about finding his ideal car. All good, right?
I should be jumping up and down and all woozily and titillated about this awesome new car (and it is pretty awesome, and only 33,000 miles!) but I’m not. Instead I fell into a deep pit of anxiety. I’d made a terrible mistake. I wanted to call the super-nice man and buy back my Prius. I lay awake at night wondering what I had done, and why. (Much as I did after having my second child.) I was overwhelmed with regret and self-recrimination.
My very level-headed and pragmatic husband said, “It’s just a car.” I heard these words floating as if from a very far distance, and thought, “He’s right,” but somehow, it doesn’t feel that simple. It feels HUGE. So does the BMW. It feels huge and heavy and has a super sophisticated and confusing computer system and I can’t find the goddamned trunk release and I don’t know how to switch radio channels. The Prius was simple. Easy. Light and nimble. It got great milage. It was just paid off. Sure it was noisy and dented and the sunroof sometimes decided not to close and it was decidedly not hot, but it was a good little car, and I dumped it for the sexy new guy who is way more high maintenance and demanding and expensive and complicated.
I know how this sounds. It sounds like First World whining. Poor Kate, suffering with her new, shiny BMW. Terrible. But it’s not about the car, so climb down off your soap box and let’s get psychological for a minute.
First of all, the “secure new job” got all wobbly about three weeks ago. It’s unclear whether it’s going to work out or not, so that made the purchase of a car and the incumbent payments a great big bummer; even though we’re only in debt for $14k, all said and done, it’s still a payment. This is a real and practical thing.
But it’s more than this. Maybe it’s discovering, in a very tangible way, that I am not the person I used to be. Maybe I am more of a Prius person now. Maybe I don’t have such a big (car) ego any more. Or maybe it’s that I was looking for change in my life— any change — but this just didn’t quite hit the spot and that’s unsettling. Or maybe it’s that I didn’t listen to my intuition which was telling me to halt the process, to let go of the idea of shipping a BMW from Texas and fix the tin can and be happy. But I didn’t listen, chalking it up to jitters, and now I’m paying the price of guilt and remorse and endless cogitation. Maybe it’s all these things. Maybe something more. I don’t know.
I’m so confused. I can’t even decide if I like driving the black beast or not. It sure is swell inside; all ivory leather and dark wood and comfy seats and it corners like crazy. I miss the tin can, but I like the Beemer too.
I don’t know what the hell is going on.
I have, at my husband’s vociferous pleading, resisted the urge (so far) to call the Nice Man to try to get the Prius back. I have told myself to wait, at least until I get plates and title, before deciding to do some other rash thing, like sell it and get a Prius. I’ve committed to two months and told myself, “Just deal with driving a sporty, comfy BMW 535i for a while. Deal with it, Kate.”
I’m spoke with my analyst today. I had to confess all this asinine crap to her and then slog through the weird, unbidden, embarrassing upheaval that my psyche threw up from the bowels of my Unconscious. And why do I have to do this? Because I am lost and when you are lost, you have a very strong desire to be found. To find yourself. To know where you are, and how you got there, and maybe even to figure out where you are going. Besides crazy, which I know.
I can tell you this much: They don’t call this a crisis for nothing. My analyst says I’m having an identity crisis which is, of course, another way of saying I’m in a mid-life crisis, which is another way of saying I’m a hot mess. I got tired of waiting in my mess for something to happen so I made something happen (and now I’m not sure it was the right thing and obviously it’s not the right thing or I wouldn’t be writing this) and now, my analyst says, I need to think about the difference between Prius Kate and Beemer Kate. It’s a little after the fact, but apparently, that’s how I roll.
Well, there’s not much I can do at this point but take a deep breath, pull up my mom jeans, settle into the Black Beast and wait for help in the form of insight and enlightenment and a way out of this imbroglio. In the meantime, if you see a middle-aged woman pulled over to the side of the road a gorgeous sedan, looking lost, it’s me. Just smile and wave.