Did you ever just wake up one day and realize that you have become mind-numbingly dull AF, that the free and wild spirit you used to have is gone, demolished by a trite gentrified society and superficial peers who became old way before their time?
For the current 40-somethings, did you ever just want to break free from the tame and overly-scheduled lifelessness of modern life? Do you ever feel like all you want to do is jump in a mosh pit at a concert, sweat through your old metal t-shirt and scream angry lyrics until you go hoarse, stand on your chair, rip off your bra and throw it at the stage, and then head bang with horns held high? I can’t be the only one, am I?
I don’t want to wear comfortable and sensible clothing and shoes, I want to wear my old thigh high leather boots and a biker jacket. I don’t care if 20-somethings dress like that, the styles are borrowed from my generation anyway so (in true GenX form)…whatever. I want to dye my hair black and purple, wear my jet-black winged eyeliner, with long head-banger worthy tresses covering my face. I want my bra strap to show a little…
Not because it is on trend, or cool, I don’t give a damn about that at 45 years old (actually I didn’t give a damn about being “cool” when I was 16 in 1989 either, because unlike now, it was not cool to be a geek who dyed your hair black and wore all black clothing). It is because that form of self-expression is part of my truth, my spirit and thus, my joy.
I used to be a child of the moonlight, spending late evenings wearing black lace, bejeweled in garnet and amethyst, with my velvet ankle-length coat billowing as I frolicked around on cold nights. I used to wax poetic in the moonlight, make art until all hours of the night and dance under the stars. I used to feel, in my dark vampiric state of being, ironically alive. Now I awaken, on purpose, to a screeching machine, so I can go out in the glaring daylight, that is burning me slowly away, day by day, until one day soon, if I’m not careful, I will become reduced to cinder.
As I get older my fangs seem to be reappearing, my wild spirit is restless, but the only outlet I have for expressing it is within the scope of a highly vapid society. Nobody my age seems to remember their wild; most young people are shallow and self-absorbed and old people are mostly, ya know, old. The most exciting place I go is Whole Foods (I love Whole Foods, but, seriously?).
Doesn’t anyone else somewhat miss the days of places like the old 80’s South Street in Philly? Dirty places with small crappy shops, the blaring raunchy music pouring out of old scratchy speakers, selling records and t-shirts and spiked leather, lined up on streets that smell like piss, pot and patchouli? Do any other Gen-xers feel the yearning to just experience the down and dirty, wildly-spirited life like we did when we were younger, in its full messy glory, wearing scratchy and ragged clothing, hanging out in dark and smoky places, with holes in the walls? Where are the artists, and musicians, and poets, and weirdos, and freaks? Did all the geeks and freaks of my generation die off already, because I don’t see you? Maybe the glare from the LED lit, and pathologically clean, safe and sterile society we are living in these days is blinding me from seeing you? Where did you go?
I am sitting here writing this while drinking my proper tea, nibbling a small homemade gluten-free, low-sugar cookie (which is lovely, honest!) reading this out loud and just made my mother ALMOST pee her pants, so let the good times roll (she’s making me write “almost” in capital letters, because she too is a youthful spirit who cannot abide a lack of bladder control – lol). But I am not a hypocrite, I am allowed to explore the light and the dark sides of things, the refined and elegant as well as the dirty and haunting, it’s called being multi-faceted, it’s whole.
Seriously though, what has happened to us all? I see people my age and they are so dead inside. When did my generation, the laid back slacker Gen-Xers start wearing khaki knickers with short and neat, easy-to-care-for hairstyles? When the hell did we buy mini-vans? We used to make and listen to amazing music; dark, snarky, pensive and brooding music. We were once a beautifully moody generation, rebellious against the dying of our souls, properly cynical of reality. We were a supposed “lost” generation who were misunderstood but seemingly inwardly full of life and enthusiasm for the magical things we had yet to experience. Or at least I thought so. Now we live mundane lives, sitting around plainly decorated houses watching reality television noshing the latest dietary trend for long life, as if we are still living and have something to live for.
And don’t allow yourself to be drawn in by the lame and cliche excuses of “I have kids” “I’m married” or “I work full-time”. Gen-xers are guilty of overindulging their children with attention to the point of creating a pathologically narcissistic generation (when your parents see nothing but you, you become self-important, and then you see nothing but you). Oh and your married, so what, get a personal life. You work, yes, and then you leave work and live your life. I wish everyone would stop using these same excuses to justify their slow and painful demise into nothingness. I’ve done it too.
It’s not like life over 40 just got charmingly pleasant all of a sudden, did it? I mean look at our parents and grandparents generation, I don’t recall them expressing any kind of middle-aged euphoria living the mundane “adult” way of life, and they had more finances and stability with which to do it. I don’t recall witnessing a level of joy that I would desire to achieve. We just died inside, like they did.
By the time my generation became adults, there was no sense of stability in society anymore, so we became what is the death of the magic and spirit, overly-analytical, as a means to solve the problems we inherited. We still haven’t solved anything, and created more problems by worrying and thinking too much, because in reality I believe that all any of us ever wanted was to just be magic.
So it’s not some form of mania, it’s not narcissism. It’s not something society needs to cure me with pharmaceuticals. These desires I am having are not immaturity; the problem is too much maturity, premature death. It is that my youthful, joyful spirit is still alive, but buried and suffocating underneath some well-behaved, up-standing, reality-induced neurotic version of what used to be the real me; raw, gutsy and adventurous. Not this manufactured person I feel I have become, the person that was thought out, analyzed and molded in relation to a set of rigid standards, set forth by a soulless society.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not totally dissatisfied with my life. In fact, I love living simply and domestically much of the time; cooking new foods, drinking tea, and planting seeds to grow my own herbs and food. That is the “gentle” part of me, that it also took me a long time to connect with. But there needs to be a balance…I have a wild soul.
It’s not that I am nostalgic. Growing up in the 80’s was great in many ways, but I am not regressing or wanting to go back to that time, necessarily (though if I had a time machine, I would go back to relive the concerts). I still love some of the same clothing styles and music I did then, but I have no desire (nor gut health) to repeat the Pepsi/Marlboro/McDonald’s lifestyle of my youth. So it is not a repeat, it’s a renewal. I just want to reconnect with the spirit I used to have during that time, one that should never have been lost, and find a way in this era to express it.
So I am going to turn off the television and start howling at the moon again. I make my departure from the norm, I am going to be wild and free.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.