I’ve noticed myself growing more cynical in my thirties. I generally feel like a very fortunate person, but I don’t quite feel as romantic about the physical world as I once did. Maybe I need to travel more, and get out of this bubble. Get out of the South, certainly. A new place with a new type of people, and friends, for fuck’s sake. And read more, and write more, and create more. And think a lot less about money…
All the same stuff I always think about, right? Adult stuff. It’s creeping in, and I push it away. I think a lot about children now, but not about having them. I think more about never having them at all, and it makes me happier to think of living that kind of life. I’m a happily married man, but I feel no pressure to have kids, from anyone. I think they’re an easy distraction for a lot of people who know they could live in a better place, or with a better person, or with a better job. A kid is the glue that holds mediocre lives together, and I guess that’s alright for a lot of people.
There’s the cynicism I’m talking about. I look at my ex-friends with kids and they seem pretty happy, so maybe there’s something to it, but I can’t see it. I took a flight to D.C. a few weeks ago, alone, and it felt incredible to lose myself in new surroundings–even the average surroundings, like the gate at the airport, waiting to board a plane and to do something that’s only been possible for a century. People don’t think about that; flying seems so boring now. But just the ability to be alone, in moderation, is amazing. I felt real pity for the poor married couples with their bored, pissed off kids who have been waiting two hours just to sit in a cramped airplane seat for another two hours. They seemed miserable. The rare, real-life glimpses I see of parenthood (so, not counting Facebook) seem awful. I can’t talk myself into it, and I don’t see my mind changing anytime soon.
Maybe there’s some sort of strength that parenthood requires that doesn’t inhabit me. I imagine myself in the role of those parents at the airport and how I’d probably require a trip to the bathroom for a mental breakdown and benzodiazepines before I could continue on. The rare moments of joy that apparently come with parenthood are riddled with chaos, and I have no interest in inviting that into my life again. They say similar things about parenthood as they do about teaching in public schools. That also takes a great deal of strength–it took nearly every ounce of mine. But at least it didn’t cost me money, too.
So maybe I’m not becoming a cynic, just a realist. Maybe a lot of people have kids before that happens to them? I guess I struggle to see the logic, but people still do it, so they must have a reason. I’m sure this will continue to happen in my thirties and I don’t see myself going backwards.