Whilst driving home from work yesterday I was forced to realize a truth that is only surprising to me: I am middle-aged.
Oh, this little pest had been flying around for a while. I swatted at it from time to time with the gestating and bearing of children at an age when most of my friends were getting ready to put their own kids in middle school; and some *shudder* high school and college.
Everyone else can see the lines in my face and the silver in my hair, growing coarser by the year. I unappologetically soften them in Photoshop.
I thought of myself as a late bloomer; “A Girl On Her Way,” to quote the title of a Maia Sharp song, and the reason for this inarguable wisdom.
An interview with Sharp was airing on National Public Radio as I steered my Civic home … (which is another key sign, I’ve learned, that a woman has reached a certain age. I came to this understanding after a attending gathering of women, wherein the husband of the host found himself shuffling cars in the driveway and had returned from his chore announcing that he’d been able to hear an NPR story in its entirety behind the wheels of seven different Hondas).
But I digress.
Sharp was telling me (and thousands of other listeners) that a girl on her way has only has so long before she becomes a woman who never arrived.
And there I was, slack jawed, a woman who never arrived: a woman, alone, in a car, listening to NPR.
The progression of this transformation became clear as the song portion played behind my thoughts.
For a time you tread water waiting for your first “real” job.
You get your first promotion.
Then a second.
Maybe you are named to the post of leadership before you turn 30, like I was.
And then maybe you get laid off.
Maybe they tell you how horrible you left things (even if you inherited someone else's mess) as a parting gift.
Maybe you spend some time thinking you are unemployable.
And sooner than not you are employed again.
This time you are grateful.
Unwilling to take chances.
You try new things anyway.
You can't help yourself. You have ideas that lead you onward if not upward.
And for a time you are on your way again.
Things are looking up.
But nothing really catches on.
And then one day a song comes on the radio.
And you look into the corner of the rearview mirror you have angled toward your face.
And you see the truth.
And you finally swat dead that fly that was buzzing around you.
Turns out, it’s not as painful as you thought it would be.
You tell yourself: If you had only sought to arrive, you might have missed out on all the sights along the way.
Hell, it might even be true.