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{22/06/2012}   The transition from young to middle-aged

                There are a lot of things I associate with being middle-aged (precise age range unknown, maybe 40s as that is mid way to 80-98- but in my 40s it will be 50s!).  At 37 I feel I am in the transitory age between being “young” and “middle-aged”.  I don’t think it’s too bad a place to be as I feel I can get away with both.  But while I snigger at a friend “doing something middle-aged”, in reality the odds are it’s something I too do or quietly aspire to!

                Recently, a lot of friends have moved out of London, me included.  Ignoring marriage and children, there seem to be a lot of “middle-aged” things that go with leaving London, for example.  For the past few years, I have collected elderflowers and made cordial and/or alcoholic lemonade.  This is not something my much younger self would have considered acceptable.  But boo hoo to my younger self, you were missing out!

Along with baking, cooking and foraging (sloes, elderflowers, blackberries … actually I think that’s as far reaching as my foraging has gone), I have also discovered gardening.  This to me, showing my age here, was all a bit Percy Thrower, something parents and “oldies” did.  But now, not that I have a garden (though I have had a terrace with lots of pots and an allotment), I really enjoy gardening, particularly vegetables and herbs.  It is enormously satisfying to go from seed to plant to plate.

I now also have a pet, a cat called Izzy.  It took me years to decide to get a cat.  I’d really wanted a cat for years but the thought of not being able to go away for impromptu weekends, etc, and the general responsibility were huge issues.  I got her about four years ago, can’t imagine not having her, but do feel a tie.  But the reality is that I am more responsible and I enjoy being at home more than I ever used to.  But maybe the latter is also because I’m more settled than I ever used to be and I have furniture and other proper grown up stuff.  I even have a car, though for some reason I still think of that as being a luxury, something I’m far too young to have.  I don’t know where that thought came from because, on and off, I’ve had a car since I was 17, I just feel incredibly grown up to have a car, especially now I have a vaguely sporty BMW!

I earn more, eat out more, have more clothes, shoes, bags, accessories – materialistic, I know – but I also have more friends, more importantly more good, long-term friends, and my social life is much more about spending time with them than in pursuit of meeting new people.  For quite some years I felt boring for not really wanting to go out to clubs or even clubby pubs.  Now I feel happy about preferring a quieter pub or going to friends’ houses or a nice restaurant.

I have also joined the National Trust and, a few years back, English Heritage.  And, do you know what, I’ve had some really cool days out as a result!  I definitely day trip and picnic a lot more, and those are things I would no longer turn my nose up at.  I am much more open to suggestions and willing to do new things now.  Well, not in the more reckless, carefree sense but in a more open minded and less obviously mind broadening way, ie traveling and living abroad without much planning, packing or sorting out defined my younger interpretation of broadening the mind!

The biggest downside other than the steady decline in my memory and physique (but that’s a whole different issue, worthy of its own misery post!), in some respects, is that I am a lot less tolerant of other people and poor service.  Maybe this is a good thing but I do rant and moan about such things with a little more enthusiasm and repetition than is perhaps necessary.  I put that down to being more confident about my sense of self, more appreciative of money, ie that I worked for every penny of the money I spend, and to having had time, years of adulthood now, to gain experience.

So in conclusion, my “youth” was fun and experimental but my years of being between young and middle-aged are all about getting to know myself and abandoning hang ups about what I should and shouldn’t do, enjoy and behave like.  It is also about accepting that in your 20s, for example, you knew sweet F A about pretty much everything, but probably had a great time not caring about that!

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