My Year of Giving Up
“Here’s to dying on a ranch together!” This was the last line in a birthday card my friend M sent me this week. The card had a kitten on it barfing up a rainbow, and it made me happy because it confirmed that I’m not the only woman of a certain age freaking out, staring down the barrel of the last decades of her life outside the norm of a nuclear family, whatever that’s supposed to look like. (I’ll graph that sentence later).
I knew that I wasn’t alone in this, of course. M and I have been talking for years about the type of real estate that might make this possible. And by “this” I mean a few women who move to a large piece of land together and have as many dogs as they want. Or horses, or goats, or chickens — everyone has their own animals-in-old-age fetish. I have this conversation — which usually involves a flurry of texts with real estate listings to plots of land we can’t afford — with no less than four of my friends.
But in addition to making me happy, the card did something else: it made me realize, This is it. I’ve made my bed and here we are. There is no changing the future anymore. (Not sure there ever was, but that’s another discussion). A husband and kids are truly out the window now, so is a career that’s going to make me rich, or an artistic life that wouldn’t make me rich but might make me happier than being a lawyer. Or any other path that I never imagined and can no longer imagine.
I had an inkling of this last year, when I wrote that I wanted to give up. Not on life — I like life, actually — but on all the things I was striving to do: lose weight, find love, and probably some other goals I had, although I don’t remember what they were. (I tried to re-read that piece to write this one, but found the writing to be torture). I started a writing project documenting my year of giving up, but then I gave up on that too.
But I do remember the moment I said fuck it, and for the most part over the last year I stayed true to that…goal? Guideline? Whatever you call it, I successfully gave up on almost everything.
I stopped trying to lose weight, except for one delusional episode with a so-called “functional nutritionist.” I took myself out of the dating world, after things with MAGA Man fell apart (haven’t written…