This is Part 3 of my Mid-Life Crisis Series.
Her name is Life. She's an old soul who wrote a book all about me. She enjoys drama, mystery, comedy, and occasionally, tragedy. Just when I think I figured out the plot and how a chapter will end, she'll throw in a surprise to see how the main character - me - along with the others, will handle it.
I imagine I'm in the middle of the book. The author is tricky though. Since I can't see the end of the chapter I'm in, nor the upcoming ones, I don't really know. The story could end at anytime.
One chapter this year was putting me to sleep. Not only did I, the main character, feel like not doing a damn thing, but it's secondary character, a spirit named Stagnation, was boring. For months, I couldn't understand his purpose. No one else could either, including my kids.
"Mom," my daughter Casey said, "You don't do anything anymore. You're too quiet. I think you're depressed. Maybe meds would help."
"I ain't depressed," I replied, probably smoking a cigarette and staring off into space. "I'm just thinking."
Yeah, and now thinking how ain't no way in hell anyone is ever medicating me. I work through my own got-damned problems without pills, booze, weed or drugs.
Casey looked like she was trying to choose her next words carefully.
"Well, I looked on the Internet for menopause," she said. "Maybe that's it. Uh, um, there's medication for that too."
This time, the first thought that popped into my mind was Nerd.
Instead I said, "It ain't no menopause."
I love this kid, and in kindness, tried to joke. "In fact," I said, "I was gonna ask you for a tampon."
Xavier, my young adult son, was hanging around and heard the whole thing. He cracked up laughing. Casey, on the other hand, didn't crack a smile.
"Okay," I offered, "if you want to put a name to it, I think I'm going through a mid-life crisis. There's no pill for that, at least none I'd be willing to take."
Casey, just barely out of 9th grade, clearly didn't know what the hell I was talking about. Xavier did. He's a walking, talking epitome of crisis. That shoulda been his middle name.
He said, "Well, I can hit you up with a jay if you want."
"I'm sure you can," I replied sweetly, "but no thanks. I don't think I'd like county jail as much you do. And this ain't California."
He laughed at my sarcasm and underlying message. I turned back to Casey.
"I've been reviewing my life since early childhood," I explained. "How point A led to point B, and so forth. How it all connected, from my own plans to random events. I don't look busy, but my mind is... thinking."
I paused. No way in hell could I explain to her in metaphors, i.e., what I call the Spirit World, and how one pesky spirit named Stagnation had moved in with us. She would have also thought me loony tunes if I mentioned those two bitch spirits I call Lost Dreams and Regret.
Instead I gave her a brief and bland overview of what a mid-life crisis is: it wacks you over the head anywhere from your mid-30 through your 50s that you ain't so young anymore, and when you look back, you realize you've lost quite a few people along the way through death or stuff simply not working out.
"You're still missing Grandma," my son said quietly.
I gave a small nod and fought the urge to get misty-eyed. It's true. Lately I was missing my mom like crazy, and inexplicably far lonelier for her than even a nice and steady male companion. And darn it, he could tell. For all his short-comings, it amazes me how well Xavier reads me, like all the books he should but won't.
My daughter ignored my explanation and his. She's simply too young to relate.
Casey gave a frustrated look and said, "Well, I'm going out to my friend So n' So's house."
Good, I thought. Be a child, and Lord, please let her continue enjoying her childhood.
And how she did.
One of the ways I spent quality time with her was teaching her how to drive. She's too young for a license, but it's a tradition in my family to introduce kids to 'parking lot driving'. I started in my daddy's lap long before my feet could touch the floor.
So one day while I'm staring off into space and getting my stagnation on, a visiting relative drags her in. Casey is grinning from ear to ear and trying not to laugh.
He said, "Look who I caught driving around the block with her lil' homegirl. Just showing off. I thought it was you at first and blew the horn. Nope, it wasn't you."
We all stared at Casey.
Xavier has a knack for being home when shit happens; any other time he's out. He spoke before me.
"Oh no!", my son said, "Don't be bad like I was!"
Ain't that the truth, I thought, remembering the time he had court one morning years earlier, and stole my car the night before, then effed up the bumper parking it. And I hadn't even taught him how to drive.
I stared at Casey.
"You drove my car?", I demanded. "Without me in it? Are you insane?"
"It was so much fun!", she blurted. "I could do it! I could drive on the street, not just the parking lot!"
"Except for the part of you disobeying me, that's real good. But you grounded."
She didn't care. Her life's chapter had a wonderful surprise for her and nothing bad happened other than sitting in the house with no TV or Internet or phone calls a few days.
I can actually relate to this line of thinking: sometimes the payoff is worth the consequences. Not only did she have a taste of an adult thrill, she got my attention.
Yeah, I played the role of being mad, but I really wasn't. I didn't think she'd do it again and to my knowledge, she hasn't. While my son and so many other kids I've known and worked with are buck wild, my biggest concern about her is that effortlessly, she's been too perfect all her life.
Casey realized this all by herself. In terms of real talk, we have a five star relationship with one another. One day she came to me and said in all seriousness, "Mom, I figured out something."
"If you're good all the time, you'll miss out on a lot of fun."
"That's true," I said quietly.
I waited to see what else she would say, while she waited to see if I'd give her some sort of parental lecture like her friend's talk about, perhaps beating her over the head with don't go your brother's route, don't do this and don't do that, and don't don't don't.
I swear, this child's Book of Life came with a prelude to her chapters titled, Common Sense Do's & Don'ts, stamped into her soul before she could even walk and talk. What could I add to it that the Spirit World and Life hadn't already taught her?
In my own barely conscious hypocrisy, I looked at the cigarette in my hand, then her, and said, "Just don't be reckless."
This was Part 3 of Mid-Life Crisis
To be continued...