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Another Midlife Memoir

Jen X Journal Part 2

Another Midlife Memoir

“The west is the best,

get here and we’ll do the rest…”

~ The Doors

Intro…

Originally, I thought I would write a fiction novel loosely based on my life. A midlife memoir if you will. After deleting many drafts of said novel, I decided I was more comfortable with a blog. The blog would contain my actual thoughts on matters of every nature. My hope would be that someone out there would be able to relate to my (sometimes weird) thoughts and it would somehow be comforting to them. Finding out someone else has the same (sometimes weird) thoughts as me always seems to be comforting to me.

Having said all that, I decided to leave in a few passages here and there from the many-times-over deleted and salvaged book. Part of it is below.

……………

“Dad, I want to move to Los Angeles.” It was a sunny, hot and humid Florida Saturday during the summer of 1994. A reflection from where the sun hit the Rolex watch poking out from under my father’s biker jacket hit my eye. He looked at me, turned off the Harley and balanced it with his left foot. The sound of Andrew Lloyd Webber ‘s greatest hits cut out along with the sound of the motor.

“Why?”

I didn’t really want to answer that question or get into another debate with him.

“Because the people are different there.”

“People are the same everywhere.” This is a debate we would have many times in the years to come and at some point I will write my thoughts on that as well.

With a big, exaggerated sigh I turned and walked through the two car garage, put my jacket on to brave the Miami air-condition and stepped back into the house, the sound of a newly-revved engine and the Phantom of the Opera fading behind me.

All of my friends in Florida had replaced spending their nights clubbing and their days at the beach with getting “real” jobs. They were planning to get married, buy houses and have children. It was becoming increasingly more difficult to find someone to dress in costume and celebrate on my favorite of holidays, Halloween . I would have to take my Peter Pan complex elsewhere. What better place than LaLaLand?

Inside the house the Bobbsey Twins, characters from a book series I read as a kid and also what I called my mother and sister in my head, were sitting at the kitchen table. They were discussing my sister’s upcoming marriage to her high school boyfriend. My mother was in heaven reliving her own high school sweetheart experience with my father through my sister. My sister was two years younger than me but everyone thought she was the older one. Free will never considered, she did what was expected of her. School, graduate, job in pharmaceutical sales, marriage, etc, everything would go according to plan. She would represent the family exactly how my mother wanted and think nothing of it. With very highlighted blonde hair, blue eyes and a roundish figure, she looked like an exact replica of my mother.

“Jennifer?” The garage door had slammed behind me alerting my mother to my existence as I had tried to sneak down the long hallway on the other side of the kitchen to my room. “Jennifer, can you come in here?”

I took the long way down the rest of the length of the hall, turned the corner, cut through the dining room and walked back toward the kitchen from the other side. The Bobbsey Twins looked up from the table, matching disapproving eyes giving a once over glance of my cut-off jean shorts, tank top and bare feet.

“Jennifer, can you be here tomorrow night for your sister’s engagement party?” My mother asked though it was more of an order than a question.

“Ugh. Are all of her friends going to be there?”

“Ummm, they’re my friends. Of course they are going to be there!” My sister responded. My mother made what I call “The Face.” Her closed mouth formed a disapproving straight line across her face and her eyes just looked blank. If you tried to respond to the look she would say “I didn’t say anything.” Maybe not, but in that moment she could suck all of the positive energy from any room.

“Jennifer you can stay for a little while. It’s your sister’s wedding and you are the maid of honor.”

“I’m only the maid of honor so she didn’t have to decide among all of her friends.”

“That’s not true!” A not very convincing protest from my sister.

“You have to be there at 8pm,” from my mother, “and wear the dress I just bought you.” Well, at least it wasn’t a hideous dress.

“Are you dating anyone appropriate to bring to the party?” My mother said trying to change the subject and nag me about getting my own life together. Two birds, one stone. I thought about the guys in Miami. The ones from my high school who had returned after college as I recently had. I was sick of them in high school. There was no way I was going to want one of them now.

“No. It will just be me. I will be there at 8pm but I’m going to drive my own car in case I want to leave early.”

The Bobbsey Twins looked at each other and I took the opportunity to leave the kitchen.

In the room that was designated mine when I went away to college and my sister took over my room, I lay on the bed and thought about her and her friends. A couple of them had come from money but most of them were just social climbing gold-diggers (or at least they were to hear The Twins tell the story.) They were barely 20 and already looking to marry well and have kids. None of them wanted to work. I had no clue what kind of career I wanted but I did know I wanted one. I then thought about my friends. They were quite different than my sister’s friends in many ways though not all. We had some great times in high school and college. Times so good I guess I wasn’t ready for them to end. Unfortunately, my friends were more than ready. They had already begun to move to other cities, take jobs and start next part of life. That left just me. I had to decide something soon or be left behind to either rot or allow my mother to run my life.

Back in college I took a class called ‘Writing about Rebels’. In that class we read books by Hunter S. Thompson, Tom Wolf and Jack Kerouac. Reading about these free-thinking individuals shucking responsibility and living a life of debauchery awoke a desire in me for rebellion. I wanted to experience everything I had only read about in books. Everything my siblings, friends and I had been sheltered from while growing up. I may not have known what “everything” was, but I knew I had to find out. The books I read were mostly based in California. With Florida becoming a bore and the pressure mounting to escape the life of The Bobbsey Twins, California seemed like a good place to start. I had a cousin in LA. Seemed only natural that I head west…

gender roles
Jennifer Pike
Jennifer Pike
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Jennifer Pike

I am a Gen X woman now finding my way through midlife. Fortunately, Gen X has redefined what that means. Here I will share my nostalgia for the past, my experiences in present time and my perspective on it all.

See all posts by Jennifer Pike