I entered the summer two years ago having lost 30 pounds, and having gained a new, sexy, size-four wardrobe. I had an early tan from a Memorial Day sales retreat to Hawaii where my husband’s coworkers brazenly flirted with me and I shamelessly flirted back. To PHF’s great delight, the extra attention worked in his favor. My libido, previously MIA, had abruptly returned; in spades.
It was the summer people started watching me, and I liked it. My red Jeep had just been lifted and tuned so that the engine roared loud with my new voice of confidence. It was that year that I started writing again. By June I’d finished the rough of Sovereign Legacy, and the hopeful, daunting thought had occurred that I was going to go for publication with this thing.
It was a summer of record high temperatures for Colorado; excruciating, relentless, rainless days that left us with little to do other than spend every waking moment at the pool. It was a summer where my set went out early and often; and free drinks from cute bartenders abounded.
In short, I was in for the hottest summer of my life; literally and figuratively.
This was the Summer... Most people have them when they’re young, on the cusp of maturity, and the whole of their lives are stil ahead. For them it’s a summer of first kisses, first loves, best friends and perhaps newfound freedom. I think they barely recognise it for what it is when it’s happening; that pinnacle where youth touches adulthood. It certainly never occurs that it won’t last forever.
But I knew at the time it was fleeting. No previous summer had been like this for me, and I knew it couldn’t happen again. Every moment was savored as something special. While I might’ve looked twenty-five I was actually thirty-five; and that extra ten years had given me at least as much wisdom. In late June I realized that, yes, indeed, I did know things now. I realized that I had slept through my twenties; squandered nearly a decade with too much fat protecting my fragile self-confidence. There was so much to do, and I had wasted so much time. Then I realized something else about myself; something more intimate and infinitely more immediate: I was smack-dab in the middle of my goddamned midlife crisis.
The book became a manifestation of mourning my lost youth. It’s no small, personal significance that the characters are immortal. At twenty, the main characters consider themselves to be adults; but the story is one of encroaching, true adulthood. It’s about reaching potential; unrealized and great. It’s about family: long-lost cousins and siblings; and fidelity and legacy and constancy. The parents in the story seem cruel and unforgiving, but they are only trying to meet a myriad of responsibilities while protecting and preparing their children for coming adversity. Relationships are never quite what they seem or should be; old bonds are challenged, and unlikely new bonds and reliance are forged from hardship. The lead characters fight and strain against the unexpected turn their lives have taken; and that first book is largely about learning to do what you must do, no matter if it isn’t what you’d choose.
And, not the least, they travel the world.
Most people have their crisis when they are older, I think. But it hit me that summer I turned thirty-six. My friend, who likes to age herself by saying she’s going to be forty in a year-and-a-half rather than thirty-nine in six months, said the other night, “No, no, you haven’t had your crisis yet. Wait until you turn forty.”
I disagreed. I’ve been there. I’ve been amazed at how many years I’ve got behind me. The amazement wasn’t a positive feeling because those years aren’t memorable or special; just vaguely content. Two summers ago I realized I was no longer content.
My friend wasn’t convinced, but that was ok. I was glad she said something, because it got me to thinking about it. I’ve still much to accept about myself, but my years aren't one of them. I know what I’ve not done in nearly thirty-eight years, and I’m at peace with it because I also know what I can do in the years ahead.