Forty-five

I had a hair cut yesterday, a bit extreme, and suddenly noticed how grey all that remains is. Hearing my musings, my beloved laughed out loud. “You have a daughter nearly fourteen years old sitting there,” she chortled. “We’ve been married over twenty years. We’re not young anymore, you daft cuckoo!”

I don’t know where all the years have gone. Well, obviously, I do. The past decade has been absorbed in raising two children, close in age. And in the toil of full-time employment. All compounded by the lockdowns of the past two years which have completely rewired my brain, my mind skipping back to the distant past to mull over all that brought me here.

A year ago, my mind skipped back to the early days of my journey along this road, and had me dispatching apologies to my parents. A few months later, it skipped back to university and had me trying to reach out to people I once knew to express regrets. A few months after that, to college in the dim and distant past, reaching out to old foes. I even tried to reach out to my best friend from primary school, circa 1984, to apologise for disappearing off the face of the earth.

Perhaps we could call all of this insanity; many people have suggested it’s anxiety. Perhaps so. Perhaps we could diagnose many things. I would blame the writing I returned to during lockdown, for churning over once-forgotten memories, and old ideas. Perhaps writing is not a healthy hobby for me. Perhaps this is why so many creatives suffer from depression, perpetually delving back into the self. Perhaps an old friend was right when they petitioned me, a quarter of a century ago, to stick to whimsical comedies.

But here we are. I am forty-five. Middle-aged. We have two teenagers in our midst. Some I once knew are already grandparents, their children graduates, setting out into professional careers. My niece, born a week after our Istanbul wedding, has completed her second year of medical school. The years have vanished. We have all become grey, wrinkles appearing around our eyes, our waistlines swelling. My wife is right: we’re not young anymore.

I guess raising a family takes a lot out of you, particularly two so near in age. It’s a perpetual rollercoaster, through nappies, early milestones, nursery, primary school… and already they are starting their GCSEs. Long forgotten, our experiment living in Turkey, enjoying the high life. Long forgotten, family holidays. In two years’ time, our eldest will be heading off to sixth form college. In four years, to university, if the Most Merciful wills. Who knows what will follow?

Here we are, alive, for a little while. Here we are, in these moments. Five years from now, fifty, even more grey. Let’s not wish our life away. I made a lot of mistakes along the road, but no man can put back time. All we can hope for now is forgetfulness and forgiveness, and from here on to live a good life.

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