I’m going to be 40 soon.
Well, I’m not. A few steps into 2017, I’ll be 36. I’m going to be 40 in 2021, God willing and with a following breeze and assuming I don’t have another little moment. 2021 is over 4 years away.
Which is soon, isn’t it? Eventually, 4 years becomes no time at all.
I got to ruminating over this because of a new debit card. The damn thing expires in 2020 which is exactly the sort of date to make you stop and take a long hard look at yourself. So after sitting down and activating the card but before nipping into town to buy some practical clothing from M&S I gazed at the fractured wasteland of my life thus far and sank, and sank, a little bit.
It’s not the getting older which gripped me. It’s the cold fear that I’ve wasted so much time and promise, nearing my late 30s with no career, no savings, no home; no partner. And not ever even having had a long term relationship, no sign that things are going to change any time soon. It’s the clammy dread that I’m a failure, that awake in bed at 4am thought, what have I done, what have I wasted?
So what else is new? That fear used to grip my heart so tight it almost stopped beating, jammed up the cogs in my brain and poisoned the air in my lungs so my thoughts iced over and words became black. That was the chasm of depression, I know, I remember it, so what else is new? And everyone gets this sometimes, don’t they?
Regular readers and longtime fans will know I lost a dear friend a few years ago. One of those bolt-from-the-blue catastrophes that shatters the world and leaves a clean and terrible break between the before and the after. He was young – younger than me. I’ll never kiss him again, and sometimes I remember that, wish I’d kissed him more.
And another friend – more a casual acquaintance, we’d met at a few parties, got high and chatted shit but found a somewhat soulmate in each other; both bookish kids who’d attended rough schools, socially outcast teenagers who’d geeked out over HitchHiker’s, grown into fractured crazed adults trying to scrabble a foothold on the world. She died in her sleep, earlier this year. Late 20s.
I visited brother #2 last night, and his family. Estrella and Estrellita creating playful havoc in the front room. Estrellita, just turned 3, dancing in her own world; running and spinning and falling and singing, that dreamy near babbling speech that toddlers sing in as they try to make sense of the world and the words we weave into it.
I got into town. I spent too long in Sports Direct trying to find some decent boots, apologetically pestering some poor teenager for the right size and right colour from the store room before deciding they didn’t suit. I still carried them over to the till area so he wouldn’t think he’d gone to all that effort for nothing, then hid them under a display table when I was sure he wasn’t looking. Because I’m British.
Spent an appropriate amount of time in M&S choosing cheap jeans which I’ve decided I don’t like but will wear out any way, because I’m a Yorkshireman.
Fears of future storms will freeze you in place, if you let them; start writing your regrets and you’ll soon find there’s not enough ink in the world to complete the list. But it’s senseless, senseless; the past never was and the future never comes and all you have is the ground beneath your feet and the air you’re breathing now, and heartbeats beating now, and now, and now. And sometimes now is howling bare grief and sometimes now is a dancing girl singing and sometimes now is standing awkwardly in a discount sporting goods store with a pair of boots you’ve decided you don’t want after all. And it’s no time, this now, no time at all.