Its funny. When my wife and I moved from the Pocono Mountains to the New Jersey suburbs several years ago, it was in large part a way to escape. Years of college and boozing, drugs and parties. Concerts with friends. Working at bars, offices, more booze, drifting aimlessly through life and afraid of getting stuck in that same aimless rut we saw our friends spiral into.
Losing some to jail, addiction and worst of all, unhappiness. "There was no way we would be able to succeed had we stayed" we said. Often we joked about how parts of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton had the most bars/funeral homes per capita in the US. Also, other than Florida, the highest population of senior citizens.
Essentially, this is where people come to die. Surely we will, hell MUST, go out and thrive. We would never drink ourselves to death and work at the plant. We would take our liberal arts degrees and make our mint. Show all you miserable fucks how life is to be lived.
And here I sit... 10 years later, staring at my life as if it has just begun.
Nearing 40 with nary a career, a marriage very much in shambles, a lovely, sensitive 8 year old daughter who can very easily spiral into depression at a moments notice. In many ways, far more questions now than when I received my degree and walked off stage.
What has brought me to this point? Where did things go wrong? Are The Suburbs where dreams die?
A few weeks back there was a nice Christmas party/send off for some friends who were moving overseas. There were probably 15 or 20 couples there about our age. Most were still with there first and only spouse. Some were divorced and/or going through a divorce. I cozied up to some friends and brought up my usual deconstructing of couples rant.
"Look over there at those two." I said. "They are not happy. How many years do you give them?" I continued. "Shit, they look great now. They keep having kids, work is great. Talk to me when the 4th kid is going to college." I remembered the husband was a paper company Executive. "Talk to me when paper is like the fucking dinosaurs. He is going to have to pay for tuition forever and all of his kids are gonna ask him what the fuck paper is in 10 years, either by text or some other new invention that made his life's work obsolete."
And this is a happy couple. This is a couple I should not want, nor dare to deconstruct. Maybe they are happy. Maybe this life and how they are living it is exactly what they want. Yet, I cannot leave it alone. Why the anger my friends wonder? Why the rage? Why the hostility???
No easy answers I guess. And maybe that is why I start this. Maybe because years ago I visioned myself a writer and life has slowly passed me by. Yet, as I sit here nearing 40 I am very much in the fight of my life.
Fighting for my family. Fighting for my sanity. Fighting for my dignity.
Never too late to learn I tell myself. Never too late to make a difference. Trying to remember all the things that got me to where I am and learn from them.
Thinking of all the friends I have known and their tumult. I guess the answers start from the beginning. Maybe I need to go back to what, by all evidence, appeared to be a normal, bucolic childhood. Maybe, as the reflection begins, things are not as they appear.
For now, I move day to day putting on the brave face and plow forward. I consider myself a good person with flaws, like very many of us.
But the flaws are eating me alive right now. And that has got to stop...