I’m pretty sure my wife thinks I’m having a midlife crisis. I don’t see it that way. I get it though from the outside she sees a guy reaching back into his youth and pulling out cultural and artistic touchstones and finding comfort in those markers. She sees a man who seems a little wishful for what could have or might have been, a guy who isn’t necessarily happy with where he is in some parts of his life and seems at a loss how to change the situation. I get it, I’m not having a midlife crisis but it probably appears that way on the outside.
In fact what I think I’m having is a reintegration of parts of my personality. Like most youth I spent a large portion of my life tearing down all that came before me, so almost everything I knew from my past had to go. Guitar rock went the way of the dodo and in was experimental electronic music; books became post modern explorations, you get the point. I took quite literally Pollock’s statement about how the modern artist cannot express the modern world with the tools of the past. I actually learned a lot during those years and pulled into my pallet of expression many, many new influences I never would have otherwise. When I listened to Skinny Puppy or watched a black and white Japanese sci-fi film that illustrated in truly graphic and disgusting ways man’s misappropriation of technology I was showing both the world and myself that I wasn’t the boy from North Versailles anymore. I may have come from a world of Led Zeppelin and Corvettes, big hair and K-Marts but I sure as hell wasn’t that kid anymore.
Living with that kind of constant pretense though can be exhausting! It’s not so much that it tires you out to sit in a black room with black finger nail polish listening to black music, but between me and you, it is. Don’t misunderstand me, I loved a lot of what I listened to, watched, read, saw during that time but god damn does it sap you of your strength. So at some point in the last few years I decided I didn’t care how I looked. If you gazed me from across the street and saw a kid from North Versailles well then good for you. I could just as easily be seen by someone else as an avant garde artist or by a third person as a stooge in a suit. In reality I’m a little of all of those. Part of me is always going to be the kid who listened to Pink Floyd under a bridge, wearing a jean jacket, part of me will always be the college artist who believed his own hype and still another part will be the guy that puts a suit and tie on everyday not because he wants to but because he’s responsible for his family. This year I integrated all those parts which meant reintegrating the jean jacket and hard rock, sitcoms and to put it simply a little more glee into my life. So I get it, when you reintegrate those pieces it looks like you’re in the middle of a midlife crisis.
The honest to goodness truth though is that I’m happier in most parts of my life than I ever have been. Part of the reason is the reintegration of all those piece and introducing the punk “goat” (as we used to be called in the suburbs, to the artsy punk of the college years to the overeducated underemployed young adult to finally the parent and husband I am now. Sure there are parts of my life I’m not happy with and I’m changing those. I’m sort of like a stone that has been sanded and refined, over the course of the refinement I’ve gone through a few different phases and now my final form can be gleaned. I still have a few twists and turns and some changes to make but I’m more sure of my path than ever before and that of course means that there is nary a midlife crisis to be seen.