The Sandwich Pickle

I am having a sandwich crisis.

I recently celebrated a birthday. It was a wonderful day, spent surrounded by love. What does this have to do with my current delicatessen dilemma?

I am stuck. Like provolone and salami between a hard roll or PB and J on toasted wheat.

I have hit an age where I feel like I am squeezed between two generations of thought and I am coming up hungry.

Maybe this will help explain. Coming from my privileged and white experience, I am  stuck somewhere between…

Going outside to play until the streetlights come on AND tracking devices, text messages, and general cyberstalking to know exactly where you are at all times.

Seventeen Magazine How-To’s AND Botox

Wearing Jordache Jeans to the Roller Rink AND Wearing Yoga Pants EVERYwhere.

Sun In and Baby Oil AND Floppy Hats and Sunglasses the size of my face

JCPenny Catalogue at Christmas AND Amazon in 24 hours

Brick Sized Cell phones AND Apple Watches

Calling the Radio Station to Play my favorite Tune and waiting for hours to record it on a cassette tape AND Stealing said Tune with Napster

Gathering to watch Must See Thursday Night Television with the Family AND Binge-watching seasons of Ozark for days, alone

The Love Boat AND Love is Blind

Skin-a-Max and Bridgerton

Raybands AND Readers

Top Gun AND Maverick

“Let me show you how to do a Keg Stand” at a field party AND “Get off my Lawn!!!” out my front door.

“Figure Your Shit Out” AND “It’s Ok to Not Be OK”

Take Antibiotics but don’t go to therapy AND Don’t vaccinate your children but have a therapist on Speed dial.

A Missed Period Could Mean Pregnancy AND A Missed Period Could Mean Pregnancy or Perimenopause

Relishing Rebellion AND Craving Conformity

Irish Stoicism AND Authentic Vulnerability

Caring Too Much about Other’s Opinions AND Your Opinion is the Only One That Matters

Numb with Drugs and Alcohol AND Numb with Likes and Scrolls

Building the Internet AND Resenting the Internet

Just Say No AND Legalized Marijuana

Legalized Abortion AND Citizen Arrests for Aiding and Abetting Abortions

Racism Ended with MLK AND Racism Was Never Gone with DJT

The threat of Nuclear War AND The threat of Nuclear War

I understand the passage of time. Things change. But I really feel caught in the middle because I feel like we are changing the wrong things. We are going backwards by reinvigorating things like book banning and abortion laws and forgetting things like family dinners and connecting conversations. I am part of a generation that came from parents that inspired women’s rights and Woodstock. They marched with Martin Luther King and protested the war in Viet Nam. And then they watched their leaders die. Their beacons of peace, JFK,MLK, Robert Kennedy, and later, John Lennon, were gunned down. So they numbed out and turned into yuppies. They created corporations and snorted cocaine. And we were rugrats watching this unfold. We turned into latchkey kids and watched Saturday morning cartoons. We were told that we could “be or have anything we want.” And we believed them. The world became our buffet table. So we chose not to follow paths, but to make our own. We built stuff. We met Gates and Jobs and ran with them. We changed how we communicate, not necessarily for the better. We made everything faster, not necessarily better. We watched the Twin Towers Fall and the Real Estate market crash. The world felt unsafe so I built and put on emotional armor and I’ve been making decisions from fear ever since.

I feel stuck as an older parent of younger children. I look at the generation behind me and how they try to control everything. They make animal shapes out of fruit for their kids’ organic lunches and train their kids to be stellar athletes or concert pianists by age 4. They don’t vaccinate, but they hand them ritalin They hover over teachers. The helicopter parent. I find myself both loathing and wanting to be them. I also want to throw my hands up and say, “when I was a kid…” but find myself reading the latest parenting blog. I’m exhausted.

I feel stuck. I am at midlife. I am closer to death than birth. I hear more funeral eulogies than wedding toasts. My friends that were once crying about breaking up with their boyfriends are now crying about their spouse getting a life -threatening diagnosis. I’m holding the hands of my children and my parents. I’m in the middle. I am looking to the generations on either side of me to fix the mess we’ve made. My generation creates stuff, but are we able to fix it?

I feel stuck. I have dreams in my life, experiences I still long to have. And for the first time, I actually understand and have compassion for the 50+ bald and fat guys with brand new convertibles that used to come into the restaurants I worked at with their hot Hooters girlfriends. All of us 20-somethings would laugh and the “mid-life crisis” this guy was having. I totally get it now. Mid-life is scary. I want to run for the hills. I want to run from all of my responsibilities. I want to run from death. I want to be brand new, but I can’t. I feel stuck.

As a way of getting out of this sandwich, I’m turning to my good friend (I wish!) Brene Brown. She said, “The universe comes down, and puts her hands on your shoulders and pulls you close, and whispers in your ear, ‘I’m not fucking around, you’re halfway to dead. The armor is keeping you from growing into the gifts they’ve given you. It is not without penalty. Time is up.’ So this is what you see happen to people in midlife. And it’s not a crisis. It’s a slow, brutal unraveling. And this where everything that we thought protected us, keeps us from being the partners, the parents, the professionals, the people that we want to be.”

Welp. So there’s THAT.

I guess it’s time to take off the armor and eat the damn sandwich.

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