It seems like I’ve passed one big rite of passage -about 20 years late. I got married. For reasons -some of which out of my control, some of which resulted from my personal choices- I have not found a female who was willing to spend her life with me until now; there were candidates, but at the first sign of difficulties (mostly distance) they bailed. It’s unfortunate, but I guess I should not mourn the loss; after all, if the first hurdle caused them to buckle, a more serious crisis would have been worse once the relationship advances to the point of having children and other responsibilities. At least this way they did not mess up the lives of little humans.
Regardless there we stood in front of the wedding guests, quite a bit older than your usual happy couple, and I had this weird feeling. Most of my friends and relatives were there with their children; it seems like we’re behind that particular curve as well. (It was a particularly problematic area as for sixty adults we had fourteen children…) Now we also have to start thinking about spawning some offspring; but there’s always this doubt of being already too late. It will be strange to go to parents’ meetings in schools while almost being old enough to be grandparents; I’ll be sixty by the time our first born (if she or he arrives soon) finishes high school.
It’s strange how the world has changed for our generation. The old life-story of finishing school, getting a job, getting married, have children by the age of 25 seem to be the exception rather than the rule among my friends; economic reasons (and for me the lack of work-life-balance in the area of scientific research) forces people to settle down later and later. If you listen to some feminists they’ll tell you it’s a problem for women only, but it’s not the case at all; it’s just the biological clock of men isn’t as apparent as women’s (and despite claiming otherwise even feminists tend to have old-fashioned stereotypes). I would have loved (and still would love to have) a traditional steady career that progresses with time, and gives me enough dough and time to bring up a family. It’s not that I was so intent on pursuing my career I could not spare time for propagating… (Or if I did I did a very poor job of it; I’m still just a poor scientist working in the civil service. No sports cars for mid-life crisis here, that’s for sure.) The guy who did the cooking for the wedding is an amazing chef- he worked for really prestigious restaurants ten years ago, and now he’s running his own small business in Tokaj that he built; he is a year younger than I am, yet his oldest son just graduated from high school. And here I am in London, sitting in a civil service job that does not offer advancement (but does offer serious responsibilities), trying to figure out what to do with my life.
It’s strange to feel old when I think of this; after all I do not feel any different than I felt when I was 25. Actually, overall I would say I feel much better and look much better (despite of the hairloss). Mind you it’s a comparison, not an absolute statement. I look much better than the 25 year old myself; I did not say I look good. Just to make sure the distinction is understood.
Yet, the example of our chef does make me realize that time is ticking away; 20 years from now I’ll be close to retirement. And this is a scary thought.