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.

The Dominion Post - Your Weekend (Dominion Post) - - Viewpoint -

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.

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