A Moment of Reflection

July 19, 2007 at 7:27 am (Uncategorized)

I’ve been getting the disquieting feeling lately that things are going to start getting harder. Not in an economic sense, really, because Llew and I have been walking a fairly fine line already this year, thanks largely to my career choice and my (thus far) fruitless efforts to actually launch it (life may well have been simpler if I’d always had a burning ambition to be a futures trader…). No, at the end of the day, economically we’re okay. We can pay our mortgage, pay the bills, buy our food, and once in a blue moon even have a whopping great night out like last Saturday. I’ve been far, far worse off financially in the past, so that’s not what I’m concerned about.

I’m concerned that things are going to get harder in an emotional sense. My friends and I seem to be on the brink of some kind of age-related change to our hitherto rather jaunty and fun-loving equilibrium. It’s like things are getting more serious, somehow.

Some of my friends are having or have had their second child. They’re all exhausted – just so, so utterly exhausted that their eyes fill with tears whenever I ask them how they’re doing. Other couples are having tremendous difficulty falling pregnant at all, or are discovering they simply can’t, or are experiencing the full range of human heartache and endurance when it all goes horribly wrong. I can’t tell you how unbearable some of these stories are – especially when they belong to people who I know for a fact would make sensational, loving parents.

Some of my friends are sitting back asking themselves why they’re doing what they’re doing as a career, and how they got there in the first place, and how the hell they’re going to get out before it’s too late. I don’t know that many people who really love what they do, and because I know a lot of people, that concerns me greatly, especially in those cases when they can enunciate in no uncertain terms what they’d prefer to be doing. Some of my friends are obsessed with material wealth, with having an endless supply of nice things as though expensive stuff were a true measure of success and contentment – maybe in some cases it is – whilst others are relentlessly flogging themselves just to make ends meet.

Then there are friends whose marriages have broken down. Regardless of what we know of divorce statistics, I really hadn’t bargained for the first wave starting until we had hit our 40s. I thought that was more in keeping with that whole second round ethos. Mid-30s seems so very early to be consoling friends whose weddings, in all these cases, were only a few years ago. But then spare for a thought for the many friends, and friends of friends, male and female, I have in Sydney and elsewhere who are having trouble finding a partner in the first place. Smart, funny, attractive, cool people who are in some cases really starting to get a little scared (and just try feeling sexy and relaxed when you feel like you have MID-30s SINGLE FEMALE emblazoned on your forehead). They thought – and I thought right along with them – that we’d all be skipping through the tulips two by two by now. Where’s the happy ending? Taking its godforesaken sweet time, that’s all I can say.

We’ve all lost friends. Drugs, cancer, Motor Neurone Disease, suicide, adventure, light aircraft, automobile. Look around my age group and most of us have already farewelled someone our own age. It is terrifying. Parents are older and some are infirm. Things crop up, little problems and scares whose importance is amplified by our awareness that our parents are no longer young. This, too, seems a sign that things are about to get harder. I know what it is to look after someone who had always looked after me – it is a role reversal one never, ever forgets.

I am not trying to be maudlin. I hope this post doesn’t sound grim or even glum – that’s not what I intend nor how I feel. I’m just aware now that these changes are very clear and bright in my periphery – they’re all around and they make me wonder. If things do start to get harder, what will I learn about myself? What will I learn about my husband? Our friends? Family? How do people land when they fall? Differently, I expect.

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