Dad, I think Mum's serious
It was late 2008 when my contemporary life began. It happened a year or so after my sixtieth birthday when I sank to my knees, drummed the floorboards with both fists and howled with rage.
I'm a nice, quiet, refined kind of gal normally so my behaviour was unparalleled. The girls rushed to pick me up and I heard Kim say to Mike, “Dad, I think Mum’s serious”.
Are you kidding? My bum up in the air, banshee curdles and a fist tattoo. A ridiculous, undignified spectacle.
But I was serious. I was seriously mad as hell.
My plan had been vague. But I hadn't expected Mike to thwart it on the grounds of reason; we couldn't afford it, he said. Something deep down within me recalibrated and my knees gave way.
Fury brought clarity. Delicate negotiations with Mike; the convincing and the compromises, were not the stuff that I was made of and the raw energy of impulse had floundered. So I made a decision there and then to declare Unilateral Declaration of Ownership (UDO). It was a decision of unitary selfishness, but I preferred a title. Unilateral Declaration of Ownership has a ring to it; an absolution.
I had rung the bell, whoever wanted to come my way was welcome, but I was changing course. I would own the situation and own the solution.
I recognised the feeling; I’d recalibrated before, but then I had been single; much simpler. I had wept into my pillow for weeks, until a flash of insight suggested to me that actively cultivating mildew in my bed, in the high-humidity of a monsoonal Hong Kong, was staggeringly unimaginative. I've just written about that in my forthcoming memoir.
The trigger is either the boredom of a depressive wallow or someone telling me I can’t do something.
The first is a slow, deliberate and satisfying clamber out of the slough of despond, but the second is a wilful,
wicked, wonderful rush to the head.
As I write this I can see the head-banging spot. It and I have a special connection. I wonder sometimes if I should paint a little star there or put a brass plaque which reads, Life after 60 started here, or just a cryptic, UDO.
What about you?
Have you had a self-prescribed U-turn, life-changing, volte-face moment? I don’t mean when life dealt you a
whack in the guts, tragedy or drama, I mean when you reached a dead-end and thought, Stuff this!
There has to be another way.