Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Bane of a Boomer

I have long lamented the fact that nearly every time I have what I think is a new idea or I experience something I think is unusual, the next week it's on the cover of Time magazine as the latest fad. That comes from being a person born almost exactly in the middle of the the biggest bulge of the Baby Boom.

This time it took longer than a week, but it happened again. For three months I've been alternately feeling a giddy over my newly divorced freedom and feeling like a heel (sometimes because I stayed in my marriage for so long after it was a lost cause and sometimes because I walked out when I did – I acknowledge the contradiction there). Last week, in the wake of the announcement that Vice President Gore and his wife were separating, there was an article in the Wall Street Journal about the wave of divorces among Boomers who have been married for decades.

First I laughed out loud at the thought that once again I'm stuck squarely in the middle of the throng of my peers. Then, I finished reading the article, at which point I cried for a good while. For one thing, my heart goes out to the Gores and their family. I know first hand that ending a marriage that has lasted more than half your life is painful [acknowledging here that any divorce is painful]. It must be even worse for a couple who made their marriage and family life something of a public icon. On top of all the other horrible things about it, leaving a long-time marriage is embarrassing. It must be even worse for a couple who made such a public issue of how much they adored each other. (And, no, I don't think that was an act on their part. In life, things change. Sometimes dramatically.)

The article was fascinating as well as consoling to me, because it described in almost excruciating detail (and with a clarity that I had not yet been able to articulate) exactly what caused the final demise of my marriage. I am still sad and afraid and trying-not-to-be-bitter, but at least I know that I'm not alone in my predicament. Actually, I should have known better that to feel isolated and alone. I'm a Baby Boomer. We have passed through each of life's passages together. All the many millions of us. We've never been alone. Ever.

In light of how we behaved (NOT) when we were single the first time, it will be interesting to see how all of us newly divorced Boomers act out in our middle years. Imagine a fat, stiff old fart like the former veep newly single and on the prowl! Yikes!

Actually, come to think of it, that might make a good story ... Hmmm.

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