Loved, loved, loved this book. Each chapter is like a literary amuse bouche, so I asked the author to let me share one with you. This Chapter 25…
HELLO DARKNESS, MY OLD FRIEND
by Amy Ferris, of Marrying George Clooney
It’s called coming to a crossroads. You don’t know whether to turn left or right.
Here’s the road map:
I felt pretty fabulous when I turned fifty, not fantastically over-the-moon fabulous—but pretty fabulous, an eight, on a scale of one to ten, a solid eight. I had a life that was meaningful, a career that was gratifying, a husband who loved me unconditionally, and friends who I loved and treasured. A beautiful home, a great apartment, and I had an abundance of hope and determination.
Fifty-one started out a bit iffy, a bit shaky. I had all the above, except my hope and determination began to dwindle. It was as if I woke up one morning, having taken a handful of bitter and resentful pills the night before. Any form of intimacy felt like an invasion. I would tell my husband “no” on a daily, consistent basis. This could be categorized as the “through richer, through poorer, through sickness, through health, through anger, through stay away from me or I’ll stab you” part of our vows. I bought two brand-new Mac computers (one laptop, one desktop) thinking that this would jumpstart my writing career. That’s somewhat equivalent to buying a brand-new Viking range thinking you’ll enjoy cooking more, even though you’ve never liked cooking in the first place.
Fifty-two was slightly under horrific. The flicker of hope and determination I had the year before had vanished, not to mention a career that not only went south but went south and was obliterated by a hurricane. And on top of that, I no longer had a waistline. I could not zip up one pair of pants or jeans. Not one pair. The zipper would stop about a quarter inch above my pubic bone. Refusing to glide up any further. To not embarrass myself, I did not lie down on the floor, holding in both my stomach and my breath simultaneously while trying to zip. You can only do that when you’re sixteen and each leg is the width of a baseball bat. I wore the same pair of sweatpants almost daily. Sweatpants, hooded T-shirts, or hooded sweatshirts, depending on the weather. I felt and looked like the Unawriter. I always assumed that I would be a fashion statement when I hit midlife. I don’t know why I assumed this, other than my deep love for clothes, shoes, and mix ’n’ matching—not to mention accessorizing. I love accessorizing. But more than wearing the jewelry, I love buying the jewelry. I have more necklaces that I “had to have” than I could ever wear in this or any lifetime. A stand-back-or I’ll-kill-you purchase. I just assumed that I would be a “black sheath, Mikimoto opera-length pearls” type of woman when I hit fifty. I did not expect to be the older version of my much younger hippie self, a “Glamour don’t” if ever there was one.
Fifty-three has been a much-needed relief. I’m feeling a bit more these days, as in: a bit more passionate, a bit more creative, a bit more beautiful, a bit more desirable, and a bit more generous, and much, much less bitter and angry.
And this is much more of a relief for my husband than for me.
From the book Marrying George Clooney: Confessions from a Midlife Crisis by Amy Ferris. Excerpted by arrangement with Seal Press, a member of the Perseus Books Group. Copyright (c) (2009) On sale at Amazon