What Now?

Every year, my birthday looms on a murky cloud of regret. It approaches slowly until around June first, then it seems to gain momentum until the final ten days, like a countdown to an unknown wave of emotions.

Will I be okay with the new age in numbers? Nope. I usually don’t come down from panic mode for about a month or so, and even then, it takes some convincing. It’s okay, 43 isn’t really THAT old. You’re still in your EARLY forties. There’s a lot of that conversation playing out in my head, starting around TODAY, and ending sometime in August.

Just a little while ago, I was on the phone with a friend, discussing my decision to go to college. Yes, you read that right. Well, let me back up a little. I’m meeting with a counselor at the college next week, to discuss my options. But hey, that’s one step I’ve never taken. So yeah, if that goes well, I’ll be starting college in the fall.

Anyhoo, I’m talking to my friend and she asked what prompted that decision.

“Well, I’m bored. I mean, bored with where my life is. I’m in that weird place in life where you can start fresh (exciting!) but you feel old (depressing!), and you know the plans you had twenty years ago didn’t pan out, but you’re not too old to make new plans….but you’re not sure about trying to make new plans, but you have a birthday coming up and it makes you reevaluate all the things and the stuff and finally you realize that you’re in the “What now?” phase of your life and you just have to do SOMETHING to break the monotony.”

That was my answer. Have you ever said something aloud and then realized you’ve just said something incredibly poignant? Happens to me ALL. THE. TIME. “Oooh, that was good. I like that. I should write that down.” – Me, 45 minutes ago. Also me, about once or twice a week.

So there it is. I’m in the “What Now?” phase in life. I’ve walked up the see-saw and I’m standing precariously in the center, tottering back and forth, wondering if I should keep going – because that’s downhill – or go back the way I came, which, as it turns out, is also downhill.

I feel like I’m choosing option three. I’m going to balance in the middle for juuuuuust a little bit longer. It doesn’t necessarily mean I’m standing still, though. It means I’m keeping one foot on each life – young and old. It means I’m practicing my balance (which will come in handy when I am actually old). It means I’m going to teeter-totter…stretch my legs and strengthen my core.

It means I’m on that pretty blank page between Part One and Part Two of a great novel. The place where you take a deep breath, switch the laundry over and grab a drink before you settle back in for the long haul and see how it all turns out.

It can be a good place, if I want it to be.