The middle. Apart from one situation that comes to mind it’s not the place you want to be.
It’s hard to watch the people you love die, and if you’re lucky and those people are of very advanced age it’s not easy to watch them live, either. But by the time you reach the middle that’s pretty much what you’re doing; watching.
Here in the middle you’ll have—again if you’re lucky—high school and college-aged children. They will excel or fuck up on a case-by-case if not a day-by-day basis. You’ll think you can intervene or manage outcomes or even take a bit of credit but again, from the middle, you can really only watch.
In the middle you are invisible and assumed. You have gone from cleaning the asses of your offspring to paying others to clean the asses of the people you sprung off from. You are the ATM and the Emergency Contact. You are Just There and as such you are granted all the personality and sex appeal of a fire extinguisher.
And where ‘youth’ ends and ‘elderly’ begins has become a moving target, so the middle (like my own midsection) has, through the double-edged miracle of modern medical science (or in my case beer) gotten considerably larger.
My own extended adolescence has clung stubbornly even as Peter Pan has gone missing. Younger ones, older ones and even ones in white coats with impressive degrees turn to me to make decisions and pay bills and sign things.
Yesterday I prowled the streets of the east village with an all-access pass and a 5-gram pocket full of prison time and today I write tuition checks and hope my mom progresses enough in physical therapy that I can get her out of that nice enough but still unsettling “Senior Residence.”
When did this happen?
Where am I?
[See illustration of location, above]