neath luna

What is life all about?

At 60, I have found myself with a bit more money than I’d grown accustomed to expecting. This is, unfortunately, due to a couple of deaths in my immediate family. Because I have so little experience of dealing with money, I decided last year to hire a financial advisor.

One of the things that that advisor has urged me to do is look into long-term care insurance. And this experience has me looking out frightened from underneath a very snowstorm of numbers, and realizing just how ill-equipped I am to be an actual bona fide adult.

What do I mean by “I’d grown accustomed to expecting”? Well, for most of my life I have been pretty devil-may-care about finances. This will no doubt translate to “stupid” for a good number of readers; however, part of the reason for this attitude, as I moved through life, was that I never found my way into anything like a truly lucrative career — so I was devil-may-care about money, in a sense, because there was never that much money around (and yes, yes, yes I realize now that that means I should have been even more careful about money. I’m not stupid, but I’m not often quick to realize things). In short, I’d grown accustomed over the years to assuming that I’d always live kind of like an old grad student: sitting in a space full of books, a space that is a bit grubby because I spend 99% of my time reading.

I could be justly accused of being Peter-Pan-ish: you know, avoiding the responsibilities of adulthood and continuing on in my ‘immature’ approach to life because that’s how I liked things, and I didn’t feel like changing. Sometimes I joke that I’m pretty good with math, unless the numbers have dollar signs prepended — which symbols render me completely hopeless. There are some things I like about my stubborn youthfulness: I like that I have (or have tried to) maintain a youngish sense of wonder and surprise, and even — though given my depressive tendencies, this may seem a chimera — joy.

To continue for a moment from my “What are friends for?” post, I suppose one reason I find it difficult to find (or keep) friends is that there are numerous chasms between my life experience and the life experiences of ‘most’ people my age. I’d guess (and it really is a guess — I have no numbers, here) that a majority of people my age are married or in some other committed relationship, own houses, and have kids. I have none of these things, although I’m tentatively looking into home ownership (the market is beyond crazy as I write this: no place for a tyro to jump in).

Some years back, I tracked down an old college friend and made contact. He and I had been sort of annoying dorks back at my undergraduate school, playing what we called “expressionist waltzes” on the piano in the student lounge, piling the furniture up into mountains, and crafting amusing little artworks for our dormroom doors. He’d been a kindred spirit. However, when I contacted him it wasn’t long before … well, let’s just say he wrote something along the lines of “wow, our lives have gone in really different directions,” and overall sounded like he’d be perfectly OK with my never contacting him again. Maybe I did a bit too much of the “hey, remember when — ” sort of thing. I don’t recall.

The matter that really seems to drive a wedge between me and … well, probably you, is the kid thing. I never, ever wanted children: I simply never had a single parental impulse. In the interest of full disclosure, I did (pretty grudgingly, if I recall) agree to my first wife’s desire to have kids, but we divorced before it became a reality — and yes, I know this admission opens up a whole other … thing, but I’m just not going there. Not today.

I just never wanted them, ever, and never even understood the appeal. Once in a while kid-sitting wound up being fun, but I was never not relieved to hand the kids back over at the end. It’s not that I blanket hate children, so please please please don’t sharpen your knives just yet: I’ve met some pretty cool kids in my life, but … they’ve been the exception. I don’t feel awfully inclined to explain my disinclination, either, but I will say that two components of it have always been 1) I was a kid and didn’t like them when I was one, and 2) overpopulation (it is difficult for me to emphasize just how important this is to someone for whom light pollution is a growing scourge that threatens his life dream).

Anyhoo, the “kid thing” as I call it is, I have long felt, a serious and near-unbridgeable chasm between me and a whole lot of people, partly because when people my age get together, they talk about … kids and grand-kids.

And no, I’m not asking anyone to not do that. So STFU, Chester. It does gripe my ass, though, when I’m in or near a group of folks and two puffy proud dads sit there, hands folded over their bay windows, bloviating about some inextinguishably wonderful thing one of their children has done and how, well, ::belch:: “that’s what life is all about.”

Oh, it is? Well fuck you, then.

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