A little over a year ago, I had a serious midlife crisis.
I was working a job I hated, my dad had just been officially diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, I was going crazy waiting for my agent to sell my book, and I felt really really alone. I was boning a lot of dudes on tinder, which was great! And just what I needed to be doing at the time. But at the end of the day, my life was not satisfying, I felt empty, and I needed an overhaul.
I found myself judging the shit out of older women trying to look young because LA (and America in general) has no tolerance or respect whatsoever for aging women. And neither did I apparently (my own internalized misogyny). I knew so many good people in the world, all over America, and especially in LA, but I had no sene of community. Or not the kind I so craved. When you are single and in your 30’s, family becomes super important, and even more so with time. And when you don’t have kids or a partner, community is critical.
But the American economy demands we be a slave to consumerism and work more hours than are even humane in order to pay off all the debts we have (people in Spain can’t believe how normalized debt is for americans). It’s hard to have community when you pay over a thousand dollars a month all by yourself in rent at a job you hate so you can live in a town to pursue a career you desperately want but have no time to pursue. In my 20’s and 30’s I was willing to spend the little spare time I had writing, but as I turned the corner of 39 and saw 40 approaching, I said fuck this shit. I needed a sense of family. My sister has her own, my stepmom had my dad and her huge extended family, and my mom had my stepdad. I had the girls living above my apartement (who were critical to my happiness) and coffee dates with friends, but most the time I was alone and felt like I had no one.
One night in bed I heard a hellicopter circling my house as they tend to do in LA when a scary man is on the run. I thought to myself “if that dude breaks in and murders me in my sleep, I bet no one would know for days. Maybe even a week. And only then cuz I didn’t post something on FB as I do too much of already.”
That thought scared the shit out of me.
That’s when I realized I needed to take my life into my own hands. Turning 40 makes you question everything in your life. And that’s a good thing. Welcome this crisis. It is your biggest teacher. What I wanted was to live in Europe where I knew community was a critical part of their life. I had been dreaming about this for years. And at this point, I was only dating European men cuz they were who I got along with most (I’m not against Americans. But I just always click with Europeans). And I wanted to fucking write. Not wait tables, write.
So I left my job and spent all last year searching for answers. I applied to be a flight attendant and countless other “real” jobs. Didn’t get them. So I took any stupid job that wasn’t waiting tables. Even watching a fucking door outside of LA parties. Anything to not have grown ass adults treat me like shit because I bring them their food. I researched how to get a job in Europe, and I stopped waiting for my agent to sell my book. I had been playing the vicim with my creative life, blaming him for my careers not taking off instead of myself for not trying harder in other avenues. I applied for this teaching job in Europe, babysat a ton of kids and babies in the meantime (which I realized I’m super good at), and started pitching stories to magazines. Things were moving but it took me a long time to find answers. I still haven’t found them all. Maybe never will.
Long story long, 39 was a rough year but a fabulous one. Today is my last day of it. I live in a fantastic apartment with awesome roommates who are so good to me. I’m dating a french man who’s good to me and I adore. And I’m living in a country where I never feel alone and I have amazing people in my life. I miss my family and my friends back home and the stage too, but I am churning out more essays this month alone than I did in the previous years combined and I’m finally getting paid for the first time, rather well sometimes, to do so.
I have no idea what 40 will look like or where I will be living after May, but I know, like always, I’ll figure it out if I listen to my intuition, wise people in my life, and pain. People try to avoid pain, but it’s what speaks to us. It tells you what bullshit to not tolerate anymore. And especially What’s not working so well for you anymore. Had 39 not sucked so bad, I would have stayed stagnant in a place that was’t comfortable but tolerable because I was too scared and lazy to change.
I think I look pretty good for 40. But I feel fucking fantastic. I wouldn’t trade all this confidence and wisdom for the tightest ass in the world. So ladies, for those of you who fear getting old and “unfuckable” in a society that tells you your sex appeal is your only worth, worry not. You will love yourself a shit ton more than you do now and you will not tolerate bullshit as much and you will be the best version of yourself, so long as you keep good people, especially women, near you and you always always always listen to your gut.