Last week I turned 42, so I'm going to talk about that.
Feeling a number?
I don't feel 42 because I never felt 40 to begin with. For example, a standard novelty gift for those reaching their 40th birthday is anything with "over the hill" on it. This is meant to say that when you pass 40, everything starts going downhill.
That's not me. Instead of giving up and becoming a fat, sickly slob, I quit smoking, lost weight, kept it off and am now in the best shape of my life. For all intents and purposes, I have the body of someone half my age simply due to the fact I don't smoke, don't drink, don't do drugs and am not constantly filling up my system with fast food filth.
There's no sale at Penney's
Something I came across recently that really reminded me of my age was the Dead Malls Series on YouTube. It is exactly what you think it is. A series of videos on malls that are totally dead. Some videos are of malls still open, some show abandoned malls and others show shells of malls right before they're demolished. Great stuff.
Was I a mallrat as a teen? Not in a typical sense. I grew up in a small New England town, and the closest big-but-not-really shopping mall was the Auburn Mall in Auburn Massachusetts. It was a half-hour away, which really wasn't close at all, so I didn't go there more than a handful of times a year.
Much closer to my home were the places I was more familiarized with, the local smaller strip malls. The closest one was affectionately called Subway parking lot by the locals. I don't even know what the actual name of the strip mall was. It was called Subway parking lot because people would hang out in their cars in the part of the parking lot where the Subway sandwich place was. In that same area was also a Blockbuster video, some restaurant I don't ever recall eating in, a grocery store, some crappy little bank and not much else.
What locals really identified with more than the big malls were regional department store chains. Businesses like Ames, Caldor's, Marshalls and the like. Those are all very-New-England stores that my generation remembers fondly. Ames in particular was a big deal because they were Connecticut based (my home state), and at one point had 700 stores that spanned a good chunk of the northeastern USA. One of the Dead Malls Series episodes does in fact show the shell of an Ames store.
Do I miss how things used to be in the '90s?
The '90s is something where if I could go back in time and live in that era for a week or even a month, especially knowing what I know now, that would be cool. But for any longer than that, no.
I do not miss pre-GPS days of driving. Not at all. I've been using GPS since 2005 and to drive without it would be awful. If I had to, yeah I could go back to reading printed maps and street signs, but I'd really rather not.
I do not miss having to buy overpriced CDs to get my favorite music. There was a point in the '90s where the price of a CD for a new album release was over $20. Yeah, it got that bad. And ticket prices to see major artists was also sky high back then too.
I do not miss VHS videocassettes. The one thing nobody ever mentions is how loud a VCR actually is when playing a tape. In less than a year, a brand new VCR would have its lubrication on the gears and belts wear down, and then the noises started. Motor noises and squeaking, mostly. I am perfectly happy with DVDs and Netflix these days.
I do not miss video games from the '90s. Whether it's in reference to the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, Sega Genesis, Sega Saturn, Sega Dreamcast, Panasonic 3DO, Sony PlayStation or whatever other '90s console you want to throw in there, I sincerely do not care about any of them. I am not one of those middle-aged guys who still plays video games. The last console I ever bought was a Nintendo Wii and the only thing I use it for now is for watching Netflix and that's it (although I'm seriously considering getting a Roku and just selling the Wii outright, given how cheap they are these days).
Florida life, year 11
Someone once said to me that one day I'd move back to New England, and that I'd be packing my bags and leaving Florida after 10 years.
Well, it's been 11 years, I'm still in Tampa Bay and have no intention of moving back north.
I know exactly why. There's nothing for me in New England to go back to nor look forward to. Southern New England isn't my home anymore. I'm a Florida man now. This is something I'm totally okay with because it suits my oddball personality.
People say Florida is weird. Some even claim it's the weirdest US state there is. Well, some people think I'm weird, so I'm in the right place.
Have I been feeling any sort of midlife crisis? No, because I'm actually doing stuff. If I was still the fat, sick slob I was before, then oh yeah, I'd be feeling the crisis right now. Thankfully, I'm not. I took steps to better myself and it's worked out well.
Generally speaking, a midlife crisis happens to those who pass a certain age, feel half their life is over, then feel they've done nothing significant with their lives and must do something about it.
I started doing significant things with my life at 39 (or since 31 when I moved to Florida if you want to get technical about it).
42 to me is a continuation of the reinvention of myself into the person I want to be.
Part of the changes I've made in my life is the transition over into surf rock. That's my thing now and I like it. The only thing missing are some new tunes for 2017.
Those new songs are coming soon.