Drink a cuppa’ mid-life joy
Grand County CO Colorado
Middle age becomes me – like it or not, ready or not – I knew it had laid its claim on me a full moon and change ago, after sampling a cup of Starbucks “Joy” tea.
“Didn’t take,” I informed the barista, “You must’ve slipped me a cup of Jaded.”
Standing there, basking in my emotional foo foo tea take, I felt Mid-life’s grip … or was it youth’s kiss good-bye?
Whatever it was, it sounded a lot like a slurp. I discerned this rather immediately upon observing the collective raised eyebrow of the other Starbucks zombies, who interrupted their regularly scheduled texting to make deer-in-headlights eye contact. I stared back, unfazed. I drink Jaded now. Nothing rattles me.
I wasn’t like this a decade ago. Nope. I was the guy with dilated Y2K pupils – stockpiling nonperishables, going Chicken Little over crashing computers, oil spills in the North Atlantic, midnight nukes, wondering who did the math when the fateful hour had passed.
What’s changed in 10 years? My nerves, I think. They’re either shot or settled – not sure which. Doesn’t matter. Unlike the Roaring 20s and the Depressing 30s, I’m a new man: An emerging Gibraltar, no longer on a roller coaster carved by circumstance.
Still, every so often, I have my moments – like when it’s 7 p.m. and I still have three glasses of water to drink to get my eight in for the day, or when I suddenly realize that I haven’t had a leafy green vegetable in weeks. Horror-stricken, I punish myself the next few days with raw spinach and steer clear of everything that tastes good: Everything with hydrogenated oil – cookies, cakes, peanut butter – basically everything that makes life worth living.
Though a bitter pill to swallow, I have also attained a Nirvana-like state of self-acceptance about my failed Ronco pipe dreams: There may never be a ‘That Was Stupid’ button (a must-have for meetings); no facial Rogaine for men like me who couldn’t grow beards if their life depended on it.
It’s okay. I don’t need the spotlight. I’ve found something better. I found my middle-aged cup of “Joy” … thanks to those magical creatures who call me daddy.
“I’m thankful for blankeys, monsters and aliens – oh! – AND omelets!” they said as we went around the Thanksgiving table this holiday season.
Later, during a “Home Alone” commercial break on the eve of Black Friday, my 6-year-old remarked (with a taxed look on his face), “This buy-one-get-one-free stuff sure is getting old …”
Then came Christmas.
“Christmas goes too fast when you’re a kid,” a friend said the other day, “and waaaaaaay too slow when you’re a grown up spending the holidays with in-laws.” We laughed about the latter, but it was the former that gave me pause.
This Christmas break, my kids and I squeezed all we could from our time together: Gingerbread houses and hot chocolate, a horse and carriage ride, holiday lights, the Christmas Eve bell choir, stories, board games, the whole nine.
There was one tense moment when shouts of “Mine!” and “No! Mine!” erupted. It seems that the kids had unevenly divided the wise men and were spatting over dibs on the baby Jesus nativity figurine.
“Fighting over baby Jesus? At Christmas? This is wrong on so many levels,” I said. The drama, however, was short-lived. The swaddling figure was quickly bartered for a stable camel and an ox, a crooked trade according to my 6-year-old.
But, this is what I cherish about middle age: The memories in the making. Later that night, my daughter provided two more: Drawing hearts on a piece of scrap paper, handing it to me and saying, “For you, Daddy, because I love you,” then adding before bed, “I think about you when I dream.”
I lapped up her words, feeling my 40-year-old heart grow at least three sizes. Starbucks got nothin’ on my little cuppa’ Joy.
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