I have my wife to thank for this blog post.
For my birthday yesterday, she took me out to a southern barbecue joint – where slow-smoked ribs, chicken, and pulled pork fall from the bones and the aroma of a spicy, smoky dry rub lingers on your fingers all the way home. Where brisket isn’t done until it’s been in the smoker for at least 14 hours, and the anticipation of seeing it browned and sliced is almost too much to bear.
This is where slow, southern-style smoked barbecue is almost a religion. No, come to think of it, it is a religion.
And this is where my wife, the vegetarian, brought me for dinner.
She’s a keeper, that one.
We were back in the car, driving home, when I told her I wasn’t sure what I was going to write about for today’s post. I had some ideas – about commercials or poetry or whatnot – but the fact that I’m now 46 kept weighing on my mind. I had just posted my thoughts on life and graduation here last week, as well, so ‘maturity’ has been a recurring theme for me lately.
Let’s face it – 45 is smack-dab in the middle 40’s, so even though you’re only 5 years away from the half-century mark, you can say you’re in your “40’s” and still pretend you’re only 41. But 46 is on the other side of 45, which means when you turn 46 you are officially in your upper 40’s. I wasn’t sure I liked that.
I wasn’t in my free-wheeling 20’s anymore, when I was first learning about the world and my career and life. I wasn’t in my 30’s either, when I could put some of the experience and wisdom I had gleaned in my 20’s to use – but still feel young enough to hang around 20-year-olds.
Then, 40 rolled around. I couldn’t even say I was in my 30’s at that point…and working in radio with an entire on-air staff that was younger than me was a bit of a shock.
But 46? When did this happen??
The vegetarian waxes philosophic
So having explained all this to my wife, I breathed a sigh and continued driving. Ever the positive-minded gal she is, my wife smiled and began comparing my life to barbecue.
She said that, just like brisket and ribs need to spend a long time in the smoker, my past 46 years have been my personal time in the ‘smoker.’ I wasn’t ready for life in my 20’s, and I still wasn’t ready in my 30’s. It was only when I met her – in my early 40’s – that my current life situation began to take form.
I had my two daughters when I was younger – but like most parents, it was trial by fire. I had no idea what I was doing, so I just winged it and hoped for the best. I worked in radio, in a restaurant, as a wedding DJ,as a dance instructor, and as an advertising sales rep…but all these were learning experiences, too. My wife told me these were the ‘dry rubs,’ preparing me for what was to come.
Last year, I left steady, full-time employment to work on building my own voiceover business (it’s a slow build, but growing). I have more time to audition for gigs. I’m writing more children’s poetry – and better children’s poetry – as well as other manuscripts. I even have the time to write this blog, fercryinoutloud.
I also now have a 3-year-old son and another baby on the way…and I feel like I almost know what I’m doing, having gone through it before. I’m able to experience child development in a whole new light, my wife reminded me, because I’m a stay-at-home dad. I’m not sure how I would have done as a stay-at-home dad 20 years ago, but I’m doing ok so far.
Life is good.
Everything I’ve experienced, everything I’ve done or seen, everything that came before – has been part of the smoking process, my wife explained. I’ve been slow-cooking this whole time…and now, I was ready to be taken out of the smoker and plated.
Life was ahead of me, and I was now ‘prepared.’
You know, for a health care professional, she’s pretty good at metaphors. I love that woman.
Although the idea of ‘being plated’ unnerves me just a bit.
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