When I was a kid, everything had to be dealt with breathlessly and usually with more drama than a baby daddy episode of Maury. There was no “Let’s sleep on it and see how things turn out.” So and so likes so and so, and oh my god, so and so said this to so and so, so I said this to them, and that to her, and there’s a math test tomorrow and I hate the teacher and my frigging head is going to explode if I don’t call my best friend and work all this shit out before I go to sleep, or until my Grandpa kicks me off the phone.
Usually, Grandpa kicked me off the phone before anything was even remotely settled. So the next day I’d go to school, all slouchy and full of angst, and spend time between classes swapping LOL’s and OMG’s with all the BFF’s, face to face, because in the dark ages before smart phones we had to do that.
I don’t know at what point in my life the angst finally disappeared. It didn’t happen right away. Somewhere along the line it morphed into free floating anxiety--that scaffold of adult regrets and what-if’s that we erect over ourselves in the wee hours of the night when there is absolutely nothing going on but the ceiling fan and the dark thoughts in our heads. But one day, for whatever reason, that too began to subside.
Maybe it was because after a couple of ex-wives, a bankruptcy, and some deaths, I had no more angst to give. It was replaced with a healthy respect for my own mortality, coupled with a few rules about not marrying people I meet in bars and not signing up for a credit card every time I walk into a department store.
Also, you learn a few other things. Like, bad stuff is usually temporary. You have this explosion of bullshit, like a big bang of calamity, and then everything starts to calm down and move away from you. There’s lots of yelling, maybe a few face to face WTF’s, perhaps some coffee spillage, then everybody exhales and life returns to normal. Then there’s another earth shattering event—a check bounced, a tire blew, whatever—everybody vents, and calm returns. It’s like a mini circle of life minus the crappy Disney show tunes from 70’s rock star has-beens.
Now I’m almost 50 and it’s a wonderful life. Most bad things can be mitigated at the end of the day by a pair of ragged sweats and a hot cup of coffee. Oh, and it helps to turn the phone off and forget it upstairs. My BFF’s can catch up with me later.