“Joder!” is probably the very last thing you want to hear your tat artist exclaim when you’re in Spain and being carved out like a pumpkin under his needle gun.
I am really going through with this crazy idea. A huge, mother-fucking griffin along half my body, on the side. Even he said it was enorme.
The fact that I am hitting 36 in a few months makes it perilously easy to assume this is some kind of a pre-cursive omen to what’s coming once I am officially in the mid-life crisis stage, a.k.a. second half of my life (or third, now that we’re all going to live until at least 100). What’s next, a dozen bloody stars on my forehead, like that girl that woke up with said constellation on her face, not suspecting a thing?!
I already got the younger, hot and muscular boyfriend so I am one red Vespa away from being a desperate spinster-cougar (I live in Barcelona where a Maserati wouldn’t be feasible for a handful of reasons.), looking for not-so-cheap thrills to replace the real stuff that’s missing in her life.
A house? A stable job? A dog? A baby? All those things sound pretty cute when I picture them in my head but I got a hunch that tells me I am looking in all the wrong places. That’s why I am sitting in pain, enveloped in a sweaty plastic wrap with baby butt crème smeared over half my body, in a tiny short-term rent room with a view of the Sagrada Familia, when society tells me I should be using that crème for its original purposes and spending that money on a baby carrier.
I am clearly a very irresponsible adult, by my mother’s measures. I don’t even know what country I am living in most of the time; I have long forgotten what my permanent wardrobe collection looks like, I have toothbrushes on hold in four countries, I freelance in my pyjamas and can’t plan anything more than two weeks in advance. At first I labelled her judgement of me sterile and old-fashioned but lately I was starting to feel like she had a point and I needed to make some sort of decisions with consequences lasting beyond the following month.
Where the hell do I start, though? My permanent address is in Greece, most of my stuff is in Holland, I am paying rent in Spain, my boy toy’s in England and my digital consultant job prospects are highest in America. Love, money, or a home and a dog? The only thing more impossible than being a permanent nomad was settling down somewhere. To us, millennials, settling down is the equivalent of a slow death. Making choices and sticking to them is not what we grew up wanting. Our parents’ generation of baby boomers turned us off to all that jazz. They were all about the lifelong commitment to one employer, spouse or home, only to realise, mid-life, how miserable they were in their sexless marriages, lest be canned or have their homes repossessed at the onset of the next financial crisis.
We were not going to be our parents; their lifestyles no longer made sense or anyone our age happy, given the new global situation. We were to find our own models of joy, commit to our own sets of mistakes in the process, and go through our very own quarter-, mid-, and last quarter-life crises. So, as severe and mind-boggling as my discontent seemed at times, it was all mine and the direct result of how I had engineered my life all along. At least I owned my dissatisfaction and I couldn’t blame it on anyone else. The flailing economy didn’t take my job; my ex-husband’s gaming addiction or infidelity didn’t ruin my life, and I wasn’t stuck living in a concrete block of flats my entire life, without a speckle of excitement.
Man, was I living the dream! My Facebook and Instagram accounts would have you easily fooled. Jetsetter lifestyle – here today and gone tomorrow – friends all over the globe, two passports to choose from, dim sum for lunch and sashimi for dinner, 3 SIM cards and just as many credit cards packing my fat wallet, and a vast knowledge of every European low-budget airline’s baggage carry-on policies.
Somehow, though, I was profoundly lonely and disconnected. How could that be, with thousands of followers across five social media platforms, rushing to Like my every post as soon as I hit Send? My friends, just as cosmopolitan and ungrounded as me, were spread all over the place. The great thing about being a long-term expat is that you have a place to crash and someone to share a pint with wherever you go; the downside is becoming virtual more so than actual friends once you or they move away, which happens every few months. At one point, while living in Brussels, I was invited to more goodbye parties than birthday celebrations.
I was tired of making fresh friends in every new place, answering questions like ‘’where are you from” and ‘’what do you do?” to polite but disengaged strangers at events revolving around food, drinking, hooking up and little more. Just like the average Japanese 30+ year-old, I now preferred staying home and geeking out on my laptop than spreading fake smiles and pretending to enjoy myself at swanky imbibing establishments. I had become more comfortable wearing fluffy slippers than stilettos and that was just fine.
Was this indecisiveness the new normal or simply an excuse to not reach for the life I ultimately craved? Had I finally grown up or was I just trying to be a discerning adult? My latest transgression was still sore and throbbing, making me seem more like the latter. I couldn’t help feeling like a complete cliché, getting a permanent stamp on my body just like all the other hipsters, wanting to believe it had a unique and profound, life-altering meaning to me.
Mierda, how the fu*ck did we get to this?!