bird watching

The bulk of the friends I have here are baby boomers in their early fifties to early sixties. I enjoy their company, as they are calmer and wiser than my younger friends. They are rooted, and I feel like they would be available to me in a crisis.

On the other hand, their discussions often center around plans for retirement, and their kids, if they have them, are in high school or college. They are married or they are divorced and not looking to get married again. If single, they still seem up for romantic entanglements but not all that bothered about it. There is a sense of settledness about them, and I’m not quite there yet. After spending time with a group of them, I question whether I could date someone more than five or six years older than me. I’m not ready for that stage.

On the other end are the twentysomethings I meet in my classes, and my roommate, who is in his early thirties. They are are at the height of the game of life, competing for the big prizes– jobs and spouses. I can’t relate to that either; I feel like I’ve exited that stage. I do have one friend in her late thirties, but she is trying for a baby, so we’re not totally in the same place.

Friends who are in their forties are fewer on the ground, but I treasure our conversations. If single, we still feel sexy, are still looking, might still want to get married, but we wonder if there are any chances for romance left (especially if we are women). Issues around children are unsettling; some of us are coming to terms with not having them, others are wondering if it’s not too late. Some of us are toying with the idea of breaking for a new career path before hitting fifty. Most of us are jaded by both jobs and relationships but still restless and hopeful. There is a sense that one still has significant ability and desire in those areas accompanied by the frustration that the opportunities to exercise those abilities are dwindling. Another day, another week, another month goes by and there can be a sadness of untapped potential and waste. There is the constant background thrum of the question, “What am I doing with my life?”

It’s a strange in-between time, and fortysomethings seem to be dealing with it mostly in isolation. We are not out en masse in the crowded bars with the youngsters; we are not gathering again now that the kids are grown.

We are rare birds, rarely spotted in the wild.