Further on down the line
Amie Richardson hits the middle of the road, checks her rear view mirror and squeezes the accelerator. Middle-age fears? Pfft.
Oh my Lord, there I am. Twenty years younger, wearing a vintage embroidered flowery dress, long tan boots and bad makeup. What I lack in taste I make up for in all the cuteness that comes with youth. Excited, joyful, carefree. Fast forward 20 years. The same dark claustrophobic bar. The same smell of beer, incense and body odour. The same music. And despite a new generation, the cast is the same. Go-go girls up front bopping and simpering. The hipsters derisively nodding their heads. The hippies (that was me) dancing wildly. And the old people (that now includes me) stand or sit in their designated space off to the side and down the back.
But there are differences. iphones snapping Veils’ lead singer Finn Andrews. Everyone is doing selfies. A cute guy is live streaming to Facebook.
And here I am, just a few years off being officially middle-aged, utterly conflicted between the urge to take out the go-go girls with a clothesline before stealing their dance spot in front of the stage, and fearing for the safety of my eardrums.
Forget Fifty Shades, the dirtiest words you’ll ever say to a woman is “middle-aged”.
The first time I heard those words and me put into the same sentence, I was 34 and pregnant. That night I sobbed messy snotty tears onto my pillow and felt an overwhelming sense of shattered youth and my own mortality.
Five years on, and having been through a birth, 18 months of caring for a dying husband, the death of said beautiful husband and the relentless grief that followed, and the words inspire no less fear.
I lather bee venom religiously over “laugh lines”, am suddenly meticulous about my personal style, hang out with 25-year-olds more than is good for me, Google hashtag acronyms to understand their snapchat messages or Instagram posts and yesterday, I answered yes to 30 out of 35 online questions entitled “Are you having a midlife crisis?”
The Veils concert is a case in point. Part of me is desperate to resurrect that cute, romantic and terribly-dressed younger self to remember what it felt like when my biggest problem was having an assignment due.
I’m tired of my middle-aged self – cynical, sarcastic and wracked with anxiety; guilt about what I haven’t done. Understanding too much and still nothing.
But when you’re halfway there all you can do is keep going. I plan to face middle-age head on. And if it means a little tinnitus follows a Veils concert or my knees creak, it’s just part of the deal of getting to go past the middle.