I’m sure you’ve heard of the Midlife Crisis, whether or not you believe it exists. I’m not entirely sure when it’s supposed to start, but I imagine for most people the milestone year is 40 and then it goes on from there.
Not that I’m into self-diagnosis, but I’ll state for the record that I’m fine. More than fine. With only a few days left in age 40, my body seems to be holding up and I weathered the year with only a couple of boxes of hair dye and a gym membership to differentiate Year 40 from Year 39. Well, aside from some notable exceptions…
One major event from Year 40 was the year-long process of the Turning 40 Series, which remains under wraps on this blog but is a matter which I speak about in person. (It’s the best way for me to explain it.) It’s not a five-minute conversation, though — we’d have to be more acquainted than two people standing next to each other at the bus stop. By the time I get to the end, a few buses will have come and gone. I keep referring to the Turning 40 Series because now that it’s complete, I can tell you it’s changed my life in ways unseen and remains a constant reminder of many things, including the power of a Good Attitude.
The pictures I chose to accompany this post were all taken on the same day nearly eight years ago in Vancouver, where I was waiting for the U.S. Consulate to process my fiancee visa. (In the end, it was processed just days after I left.) The pictures were all taken with a point-and-shoot digital, and as you can see were edited in Photoshop in the days when I really didn’t know how to use the software properly.
July 13 was a few weeks before The Phone Call from David in the ER, a call that sent me desperately packing and flying to New York within hours. My life completely changed after this picture, in every way a life could change from circumstances beyond one’s control. I took these self-portraits obviously not knowing what was to come. I was in a self-portrait mood, apparently, and at one point I put the camera on the floor and crossed my fingers. Eight years later, I couldn’t tell you why I did that, but it’s rather symbolic of something… hope for the best? I don’t know.
It’s been a while since I’ve taken self-portraits like this. The last ones I did were dressed in period costume with my cat and a giant feather sticking out of my head. Not quite the same mood.
The events of 2005 and 2006 sent me down a road of trauma I would never wish on anyone, but then again my life would be different if U.S. Immigration hadn’t declared me an illegal alien and sent me back to Canada by threat of deportation. Life in Pennsylvania without David would have its own set of challenges, even without the shock to the system of a forced and speedy move across a border. I chose Toronto for practical reasons, but if I landed anywhere else — Halifax, Montreal, or St. John’s — I would’ve had the same struggles of settlement in a new city: find a place to live, get a job, make friends, start all over. With no real connection to the city, it took me quite a long time to make the connections I have now. (Which makes some wonder why I would choose to leave rather than stay, but that’s a story for another post.)
I look at these photos above and would like to tell my newly-33-year-old self something that might prepare her for the impact of The Near Future, but in reality and retrospect there simply wasn’t anything I could know to prepare myself for what happened. I knew no one with similar experiences. I was 33 and new in town. How do you deal with a huge storm? Grab a flashlight, batten down the hatches and ride it out. Much easier said than done, especially having to deal with a multitude of issues at the same time. Some of those issues are as of yet unresolved; years later, still out of my control (much to my frustration), but none affect my well-being directly and for that I am thankful. I can’t manage what it is out of my hands, I can only move forward.
Having survived major crises at 33, I can thankfully say life at the almost 41-year mark, while not stress-free, is crisis-free and much happier. I experienced a huge life event this past February and life is going to change again soon, but with a difference that cannot be overstated: I am fully in control of the circumstances. The changes were all mine to make, and I chose them.
In these final days of 40, I feel like I’ve come full-circle: I have the hope and anticipation that I was feeling in these goofy point-and-shoot pictures. I have much to look forward to: I’m healthy, life is good and in a week I get to celebrate 41 trips around the sun!