Is thirty-eight too young for a midlife crisis? Is that something that only happens to forty-five year old men who married their high school sweethearts, bought a house, a mini van, and had two point three kids, a dog and a cat? Stereotypically they buy a bright cherry- red corvette convertible, acquire a blonde girlfriend half their age, and start tanning and getting their teeth capped.
Me, I just start thinking about how much I love animals and enjoy having them in my life, and that I am definitely not spending enough time with my dog. Ideally, I would sit outside in my yard every day and write if I could make a living that way, and watch the crazy pooch dart around, snapping up flies and wasps which she has perfected to an art form. My dog cannot be still in the yard when I am out there. Usually on Saturdays I go to the coffee shop to write. This last Saturday I had no energy for people, no desire for traffic, and I missed my dog.
So there we were. I wrote drivel, she sat in the corner of the yard waiting for the next unsuspecting bug to cross her path. She slaughtered a mouse in the yard once. I was sitting outside enjoying a glass of wine with a friend and Tess, of course, could not be still while there were people outside to show off for. Mid-conversation I saw my dog pounce, heard a loud bang as her front paws connected with the aluminum fence, and was surprised at the growling bark she released from deep in her throat. Then she backed up and looked at me and my friend with a look of pride in her eyes. My friend turned on the flashlight in his phone so we could see what had made my dog act so out of character. There under my crabapple tree lay the body of a dead mouse. Tess looked at us with an expression that said “I protected our home from vermin, Mom. Aren't you proud of me?” After which she trotted off happily in pursuit of more bugs to destroy.
This summer was almost too much. I had something going on every weekend starting mid-June because I believe my midlife crisis began earlier this year, and I took steps to change the monotony of my life. When I start to feel miserable, I do something different. I joined dating sites, I went out with my friends, I invited friends over to eat out in my yard and enjoy bottles of wine. I started writing at the coffee shop every Saturday and attended Recovery on Fridays. I spent more than a week in Indiana with my parents for a much needed vacation away that included lots of swimming in the pool, eating my mother's fabulous cooking, and drinking my father's wine. It got so I didn't want to leave, and I always want to leave Indiana because I always want to come back to Wyoming where I feel my home is.
Wyoming is still home, but I'm still restless. In Indiana I reconnected with my old boss from the Human Society I worked at and I realized how much I missed working with animals. I'm pathetic at animal shelters. My working at one for six years resulted in my parents adopting three cats, two dogs, two ferrets, and a pony, along with fostering various puppies, baby squirrels, baby rabbits, and baby ducks. There was also a litter of four kittens, two of which my brother adopted. When I moved to Wyoming I couldn't go to the animal shelter without coming home with something. That's how I ended up with the first two cats, and after they died, three more. I seem to be able to resist dogs better. Tess I planned for, looked for, and found by researching Petfinder. My cats I found because I'm a soft touch and the animal shelter knows a sucker when they see one coming.
I want to work with animals again. It pays nothing, but the rewards are high. I don't mind cleaning kennels. Some of the happiest times I had were working at the Humane Society in Indiana, scrubbing kennels and cat cages. That's how I met my puppy love, Colleen. If I hadn't been a kennel sanitizer at the Humane Society, I would have never met her and had the opportunity to spend every day with her for a month. I clean animal shit all day anyway. I might as well get paid to do it, so I inquired at my vet clinic about picking up some extra shifts cleaning their boarding kennels. I've also toyed with going back to school to get a certification in veterinary technician and possibly eventually going that route. I love my job and I love libraries, but my love for animals is calling more and more each day. I would like to be a pet sitter, a dog trainer and behaviorist, maybe even a steady foster home, though we all know I can't handle that. I end up keeping everything I foster. Since I don't want to be an animal hoarder, I'll need a bigger place with a bigger yard and extra people living with me to give everyone the allotted attention.
If there was some way to combine animals with the chocolate shop I've always dreamed of owning, I'm all ears for suggestions. Then I could make a living working with the two things I love, animals and baking (specifically baking chocolate).
See, I'm having a midlife crisis. I'm thinking of changing my career. I'm thinking about the next chapter in my life. And I know a life with no animals is no life at all. Forty-year-old men buy Corvettes. I want to buy a dog mobile and haul my pack around to all the places we can go hiking. Forty-year-old men acquire a hot young girlfriend. I don't need a trophy. I just want a nice guy who's as crazy about animals as I am. Women my age hear their biological clock ticking and start thinking of babies. I'm thinking of puppies. I have an image of my house filled with German shepherds sacked out in various places, creating an obstacle course for me to maneuver. It's only fair as I would want to get a large yard and set up an obstacle course for them to maneuver. Tess has always hated obstacle courses. She thinks they're stupid. She only cares about what her nose can do. Poor dog would have made an incredible drug sniffer.
My whirlwind summer has worn me out and now I'm back to craving a slower pace, but a different slower pace. Less people, more animals. Less stress, more relaxation outside with flowers and water and mountains in the background. Less work and more play. Or else work that is play.
Yes, this is wishful thinking. We all have to do what we have to do, even if the look on my dog's face every morning as I leave for work is making me feel guilty. My life isn't so bad. Actually it's a pretty good life and I have a pretty cushy job. I'm not complaining.
It's just when one has a midlife crisis one starts to think "Is this what I want to do with the rest of my life?"
I have options. We all do. Let's look into them.