Los Angeles doesn’t just have an obsession with youth, it actually pro-longs youth. I see pictures of people in their early thirties from somewhere in the Midwest and always marvel that they look older than people around me in their early forties.
Elsewhere is seems that couples in their twenties are dealing with their second house and second child, and out here men in their forties rent apartments on Sunset and date mid-twenties models.
I find myself influenced by both. I’ve never been the nightlife kind of guy, and I’ve been happily married for more than a decade. But we still rent our home (not for lack of home ownership interest, but for lack of affordable options) and the majority of our friends are childless dream-chasers like ourselves.
Yet in the last year… things have changed.
The obvious change is impending fatherhood. Of course becoming a parent alters conversation and concerns, it’s a foregone conclusion. But starting in the fall of 2008, when the economy took a dive, I’ve noticed a fundamental shift in the issues at hand.
My former boss at New Line found himself without work at the age of 50. More than once we sat across a lunch table from each other trading websites and contacts to inform our job searching. We meet as equals and friends with the common problem of our industry shrinking beneath us.
A long-term mentor and friend since college has always offered me very relevant and insightful advice on how to survive this industry and fight discouragement with hope. Now he finds himself asking “Do I keep doing this?” and “is this vanity?” over everything related to the film industry.
Two friends have recently come to me in quiet moments to give the news that their marriages are ending. People I’ve known for years. Friends whom Catherine and I have shared dinner, and laughter, and similar lives… yet never will again in the same way. I’ve found myself sitting across from these men hearing their stories, asking questions, and being asked for advice.
And it’s in all of these moments that something dawns clear and true.
These are not the issues of children. These are not the musings of Peter Pan.
This is very adult.
I still have friends who drink themselves into a stupor every weekend at some hyper-hip hangout. Others who’ve paid the price with a DUI or three. Thirty-year-olds with a foot still planted in the frat house.
But those ranks are thinning.
Most around me are marching into a sea of heavy issues. It makes me ponder:
Peter Pan never grew up. Never felt responsible. Never struggled with the things that make us “grown-ups”.
But I don’t think it’s possible to appreciate the care-free times completely until you have cares to be released from. In these dark and heavy discussions with friends I’ve found a greater love for every one of them. And when they smile again it hits with actual force.
I’m honored to be walking tough roads with companions. And I’ve felt them lift me when I’m exhausted just as often as I’ve been asked to lift them.
I think the curse of Adulthood is not the pressures, the struggles, or the issues. It’s never stepping back long enough to see freedoms beyond the responsibility. Never-land… the place of where you never have to be grown-up, becomes Never-Land… the place where you never get to be a kid.
I hope I always remember to step away. Or always have someone who knows me well enough to drag me away. And I hope I can do the same for others so we can live where we are and not envy Peter-Pan.