Dancing through a Mid-Life Crisis, Transplanted and Still Blooming, Cinthia Milenr

Dancing Through a Mid-Life Crisis

No, I’m not taking a ballroom class. I plug my earphones into my IPhone and hit play. I hit play in the parking lot, before I even get to my car. All day long I help people solve plant problems. What to plant where, what plant best matches the porch cushions (really?), what works in shade, in sun, on an embankment, and so on. I answer questions politely and hopefully, informatively, but if you could read my thoughts, I’m looking forward to the music.

So why the music and the mid-life crisis?

Because life gets hard about this time in the journey. For some, it starts out pretty darn hard. For others, hard things happen along the way. But by mid-life, the ball really gets rolling. At least, that’s what I’m finding out. My mother died so unexpectedly and suddenly last July, that I am still reeling and forever picking up the phone to call her. She missed Jordy’s birth, my 3rd granddaughter. And now, my dearest and oldest friend is facing brain cancer. Weren’t we just decorating our college dorm room? It goes fast. There is no other way to say it. A blink and it’s gone.

Here’s the weird part. Once great, grand, and parents are dead, you’re up next to bat. Yes, if family history prevails, I have 20+ years still, but the generation before me is gone. They were my buffer. Now, I’m the buffer for kids and grandkids, and well, that my friends is a sobering thought.

Add empty-nest, jokes about how long we can live based on our IRAs, grandchildren we never see, working long hours in hopes of increasing that IRA a little and then the dang downsizing. I hate the downsizing.

When did life become about downsizing instead of building? When mid-life showed up, that’s when.

You see what I mean. Full on mid-life crisis. I read some articles about it. Not much there. Did glean one gem. That my brain can’t process everything happening at this stage of life. Agreed. So, I gave up reading the self-help stuff and hit Crazy on You, or Hooked on a Feeling, or Spirit in the Sky or I Want You Back (yes, the Jackson 5), and tuned it all out. When I open my front door, I dance. I dance while preheating the oven. I dance in the shower. I dance and vacuum. I dance around my house to everything from Queen, the Eagles and yes, even PitBull.

And I remember. I remember dancing with Donna in our college dorm room, dancing with my sisters in our childhood bedrooms, dancing with my toddlers and boys and even teenage sons in our family living room, dancing with my mom and dad in our family living room. I had forgotten that my family–that I–love to dance.

The kitchen is the best place for it. The floor is slick. After dinner, I crank it up and stand Aggie up on her hind legs and dance around with her. She doesn’t like it, but she tolerates it as one would expect a good dog too. I dance until way past bedtime, and for a few hours I’m not the grandmother with grandchildren way too far away, or the divorced wife living paycheck-to-paycheck, or the 56-year-old looking straight at the fact that mid-life is really just a term for what I’m experiencing.

Because I passed mid-life a decade ago.

My oldest son says our goal is not to be successful. Our goal is to come to terms with ourselves and the choices we make, or, I would add, perhaps the choices others–or life–make for us. Mid-life has definitely been a choice-evaluating-time for me. To consider where I stepped wrong or maybe right, but mostly, I’m just dancing.

P.S. This one is for Carol. 🙂

 

Walking the City Dog

I walk Aggie a lot. Which is a new thing for me because when I lived at South Turkey Creek, the dogs lived outside. Except Platypus, who got to live inside and sleep on the bed. Here’s Platy dog.

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Look at that face. Who can say no to that face? Still, Platy dog is a country dog. She’d be lost in town.

My country dogs, named in order, were Fruit Loops, Big Dog, Platypus and the last to join the family, Bear, were pets in the pet-ish (not to be confused with fetish) sort of way. They came around for their food. They sometimes wanted you to play with or pet them. They always wanted to accompany me on my walks, but I never used a leash. They preferred sleeping outside, and Big Dog only came into the house when she was in her final days (a sad time for all). At night, if the dogs were inside, they were tossed outside. They were all moochers, so first chore when setting the dinner table was to put the dogs outside. When we were out of town, a neighbor feed them, and checked on them. There was none of this fancy boarding stuff. But mostly, the country dogs roamed through creeks and woods, and did a lot of sleeping under the porch. It was their world and they decided how their days were spent (mostly).

Its a different life for the City Dog.

Agapanthus, Aggie for short, sleeps in a crate (almost the size of a small room). She is always on a leash. Even when she goes out to pee. She is walked four times a day, and if it isn’t a busy day or it isn’t raining, she goes to the Flower Market at night when it is all locked up with no customers, and romps around sans leash for an hour or so.

She travels in the car quite a bit. She gets excited when she realizes she is taking the short trip with me to Ingles, my local grocery store.  An outing for her is truly an outing. It means not being inside a crate, inside a room, inside a house.

For about a week, I was taking Aggie to a very large, enclosed playground at the local elementary school. I can’t brag about the playground. Its just mostly a big open area, but Aggie adored it. She could run from fence to fence, jumping over small rocks, stumps or railroad ties, and actually feel free for an hour. I’d unleash her, and say, “Run Aggie, run.” And boy, did she.

A passing walker stopped one evening to watch her run. An elderly gentleman that, it turned out, was the janitor of the school. We stood together, enjoying the sight of her running with pure abandonment, and he said, “Man, that dog was made to run.”

I agreed. Watching Aggie run is like watching my youngest son play soccer. You know he was made, literally designed, for the purpose of playing soccer, and it is joy to watch. Aggie was made to run. Ears back, legs reaching out in front of her. She looks like a Thoroughbred horse running the track. Then the janitor said, “It kills me to say it, but dogs aren’t allowed in here.”

I thought he was kidding until he pointed out the sign I had walked past every night. I was heart-sick because there is no other place for Aggie to run in my small town. The Flower Market is not the same. Too many things obscure Aggie’s ability to flat out run.

So, instead I walk her, and walk and walk and walk her. Early in the morning, late at night. We know all the roads, side roads, small alleys, shortcuts, where the streetlights are and aren’t. We walk and walk and walk. Its my small way of saying, I’m sorry. I didn’t know that cities have ordinances about dogs on leashes. I didn’t think about the number of cars traveling past my house every day that could pose a danger. I didn’t consider the number of hours I’d be at work and you’d be stuck in a crate. It never occurred to me that you would rely on me to pee. City dogs are a new concept for me.

I want to tell her so she understands, I’m so sorry. I didn’t know you were made to run.

Aggie whimpers a lot in her sleep, jerking this way and that, dreaming like dogs do. I imagine she is dreaming of running. I promise her, as I close the crate door for the night, “We’ll be up early girl. We’ll get up early for a long walk.”

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Aggie with her favorite and well-chewed duck.