“Yeah. I think you’re going through a mid-life crisis.”
I picked my son up at the airport yesterday morning. He had been traveling for the previous week, visiting and auditioning at music schools. As we talked I told him that I had bought tickets for an upcoming metal show. He responded by proclaiming that his father was half way to death, and that this mid-life status was causing him to try and reclaim his lost youth.
I have been trying to figure out since whether I am indeed going through this thing people call a mid-life crisis, or whether something else is going on. Here is the evidence:
Can you still be a metalhead in your 40s?
Slayer and Testament are coming to town. I last saw Slayer in 1988 when I was a freshman in high school and my friend’s dad took the two of us to see them at the Orpheum in Boston. I remember feeling the aura around the band back then. We all really thought that the band was a bunch of satanists, and not the product of a well-crafted marketing plan (evil intrigues and sells). There was a palpable fear in the theater, but when the band played…oh the power of that sound.
Metal and other hard music got me through my teen angst, and it sill helps me deal with my depression, and channeling my anger in a positive way. Metal got me through the pain and anger of my divorce.
When I heard Slayer was coming to town I started looking for someone to go with me. My girlfriend was not interested. My eldest son is a classical pianist. My younger son does the jazz. And my daughter wants to be a pop princess. I have known for a while that I will need to wait for my grandkids before I have a chance of a family member going to a show with me. I did an all call to my Facebook friends. Turns out that most of my friends are also in their 40s and in the family way. Their nights are spent trying to put toddlers to bed.
I finally had an in interested response from a former student and now I am ready to rock out with my 20-something former student, a theater full of other thrashing 20-somethings, and maybe a few older metal fans like myself, carefully standing on the sidelines hoping that our hearing doesn’t completely go this time.
Tattoos…the permanent type
The other night my girlfriend’s 6 year old son asked her whether my tattoo was one of those that don’t wash off. My kids also (and mother) were aghast when I first got it around my 40th birthday. It was my first tattoo, and I got it to celebrate my 40th and my divorce.
I had wanted a dragonfly on my back for years. I recall talkin
g about it with my ex back in the late 90s. But as a young husband and father, it isn’t so easy to justify spending a few hundred dollars on a tattoo, when your baby needs diapers, baby food, and a 529 plan.
In a few weeks I will be meeting with a tattoo artist to plan out my second tattoo. They do say that once you get ink it can become addictive. Is 40 year old skin too old to get tattoos?
Time for a new job
The first thing my son listed as his justification for my being in the middle of a mid-life crisis was that I was looking for a new job. I have been an educator for almost 20 years. I love working with teenagers. But yet, the same reasons that make my work enjoyable, make it absolutely exhausting.
My ex’s affair, and the resulting divorce process, took a lot out of me. I spend my day taking care of children, and then I return home and continue caring for children. It is a very emotional existence, where downtime is a luxury. I need something different to get myself going again. What that is I still haven’t figured out.
I think that rather than a crisis I am finally listening more carefully to my own needs.
Is this a mid-life crisis?
WebMD starts an article about mid-life crises saying that they are “the stuff of jokes and stereotypes — the time in life when you do outrageous, impractical things like quit a job impulsively, buy a red sports car, or dump your spouse.”
So far I haven’t quite my job impulsively and my spouse was the one who dumped me. And my idea of a dream car is a green hearse that I can drive cross-country.
I think that rather than a crisis I am finally listening more carefully to my own needs. I became a father at 23, and a very responsible one at that. I was a caring husband who put the family in front of my own needs pretty much all of the time.
My kids are now older, and although money is not much better, I have come to realize that my own mental health needs to be nurtured as well. Concerts and tattoos just happen to be how I want to spend some of my discretionary time these days. Changing jobs might not be a crisis, but an attempt to reignite my professional passions. Maybe I will take on a new job and will find that not much changes, but right now I have at least realized that I need something different.
Maybe others, like my son, see me doing things that they have not seen me do before and wonder whether I am going through a mid-life crisis. At least I haven’t yet bought the red sports car.