Thursday, November 03, 2011

Milestones ahead

I've always been fascinated with milestones. Perhaps it is the geographer in me, wanting to know how far it is to the next landmark. Milestones date back to Great Roman Empire at least. The Romans, probably wanting to brag about the size of their empire, set out to measure the distance from one end to another, and many shorter distances in between.
Where I grew up along U.S. 30 in Indiana, there was a green sign we always passed which indicated the mileage to the next two decent-sized cities down the road. As a sports fan, my first instinct was that someone had posted football scores along the side of the road (New Haven 10, Fort Wayne 14), but my parents filled me in on what they were for. Since that time, I've studied milestones. When I lived in Cumberland, Maryland (the beginning of the Cumberland Road which later became the National Road), I got to see the first milestone which dated back 150 years. It was the first in a long series of markers which helped early American travelers figure out how far it was to the nearest Stuckey's.
I'm thinking about milestones because my household is coming up to a number of them. My daughter turned 10 years old earlier this week. It's a milestone that really doesn't seem to be that special on the surface. Nothing really changes at 10, although at 10 it seems that everything changes daily! So her age is now double digits, even though she truly believes she is somewhere in her mid-twenties.
My oldest boy turns 20 next month. Now 20 is one of those ages that should be a milestone, but really isn't. Absolutely nothing changes except a 20-year-old is no longer a teenager. Because he is away at college, I've had a hard time considering him a teenager the past year and a half anyway. His big landmark is next year, but unless he plans on taking up a drinking habit, not much will change there either.
My middle child will turn 18 this spring. Now that's a landmark! Well, maybe not so much the birthday itself, but it seems that a lot of things start to change right around the time of the 18th birthday. High school turns to college. Childhood turns to adulthood. If only I could get the car insurance rates to change from "Have you thought about borrowing the money?" to something actually affordable!
And as for me, next month I will officially hit middle age. My 50th birthday is coming up. Um, 50 is halfway, right? So in honor of hitting middle age, I would like to have a mid-life crisis. This would be a welcome substitute for all my other assorted crises. The thing is that so-called experts claim that a mid-life crisis is a reaction to depression over uncontrollable changing circumstances in a person's life. I'm not in the market for depression or uncontrollable things. However, I have always wanted a flashy red sports car.
Years ago, I knew a man who hit close to 50 and went out and bought a shiny red two-seater sports car. He even got the little sloped cap too. You know the kind. It's guaranteed to make a sane person look like he's living on Fantasy Island. But he really enjoyed the car and seemed to avoid all the other pitfalls of a mid-life crisis.
Me, I can't afford a sports car. I'm not going to drown my life with alcohol because I really don't like it well enough to pay all that money for it. Can't afford a Harley. And an affair with my secretary is out of the questions for many reasons, the least of which is that I don't have a secretary! So I guess I'm going to have to hit this milestone head-on with some vitamins in one hand and some Geritol in the other.
With milestones along the road, you know how far you have to go. With life's milestones, you only get a reminder of where you've been. Whatever the second half of my life turns out to be, I know that I have made it down the first 50 years of roadway. I may have four bald tires and one bald head, but I'm fueled up and ready for the trip! But I'd rather avoid anymore milestones for a few years!

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