Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Midlife Crisis

My husband just marked his 50th birthday.  In preparation, he delved into a midlife crisis about 3 to 4 months ago.  It was unlike any midlife crisis I'd ever expected.  Brad sunk to no depths--of depression, crutches or unsavory activities.

Instead, he began asking and noticing. He has asked where we keep pots and pans we've had for years, rather than leaving them to wait for someone with greater knowledge of the kitchen to put them away.  He has noticed clothing he's never seen before and asked when and where I bought it (never mind that I may have worn it in his presence dozens of times; this truly was the first time he'd knowingly seen it).  He watched me apply lipstick appropriately hued to the deep red turtleneck I was wearing and asked whether I match my lip color to my outfits.  "Yes," I replied, "as I have for about 30 years."

Brad seems to have stumbled on the sweetest of midlife crises, and to make it sweeter he fails to see anything new or remarkable about his behavior.  I comprehend the sweetness, and certainly I appreciate my good luck considering the midlife crises with which many spouses contend.  In fact, I ought to be thankful for the gift of such an attentive husband.

Yet Brad's questions and obervations stop me in my tracks not because they thrill me but because they throw me entirely off guard.  I don't know how to answer a question or comment that I cannot imagine him voicing.  It's hard for me to comprehend that the man I've known since 1979 and married 5 years later is the person saying these things.  Not that he previously was insensitive; he's always been a good, kind, well-intentioned man.  He's also been entirely disconnected from a slew of things including where I keep the pans, when I buy my clothing or the color I apply to my lips.  It's as though he suddenly developed broader peripheral vision that captures a range of experiences he'd simply never seen were there.  And as nice as that may be, despite what it suggests about me I find it easier to get used to his sudden need for reading glasses (in which he looks quite distinguished, by the way)