49 Up (+1)

apted.jpg Yesterday, I went to the documentary 49 Up. Since 1964, every seven years they film the same people to see how their lives are going. It started as a political thing, to compare the lives of children from wealthy homes to children from poorer homes, but it ended up being so much more.

I went to see how other people my age are coping. At first I thought going was a mistake, because everyone in the documentary was coping better than I am, including a guy with mental health issues, who was my favorite. And, except for the guy with mental health issues, they are all MARRIED. Something I have not managed, even though I decided about ten years ago that I wanted be married. (I got married in my 20’s, but I didn’t really like being married at the time.)

What they seemed to have managed, that I haven’t, is that they have all made peace with their disappointments. Who doesn’t have disappointments?? But they’re being much more grown-up about it. Even the mental health guy seemed to have a better attitude than I have. (He was so charming and endearing. So fragile, and yet, hanging in there and doing so much better.)

I was emailing my friend Chris about this when I realized, maybe it wasn’t a mistake going. The Up kids inspired me.

It seems like every day I read something along the lines of “Family is what matters,” and people who are married live longer, and “the only thing that has any meaning in life are the people who love you,” usually spoken by people surrounded by spouses and children. And a dog. (Usually a german shepherd. Apparently the dog of choice of lovable people.) In other words, people like me: we fucked up.

Here’s how I’m going to look at it (the failure to get married, etc). Years ago someone who was giving me voice lessons played a recording of my choir singing. We sounded amazing. Far, far better than I would have imagined. I said, “They sound good.” I think I didn’t include myself because I don’t really have a great voice. It’s okay, and I sing in tune, but it’s not beautiful or anything. She said, “But you’re part of that. You’re in there. Your voice is part of that sound. You are contributing to that and it wouldn’t sound like that without you.”

That’s how I’m going to look at my life. My voice (life) is contributing something to the chorus of the world. It’s in there somewhere shaping the sound. I’m just singing a different part then most of you, apparently. Oh, and you’re all going to live longer than me which is SO not fair.

Stacy Horn

I've written six non-fiction books, the most recent is Damnation Island: Poor, Sick, Mad, and Criminal in 19th-Century New York.

View all posts by Stacy Horn →

7 thoughts on “49 Up (+1)

  1. I don’t know if it makes any difference in your thinking, but the kids in the UP series are from England. It was just in the NY Times this last week (front page) that the percent of married people in this country has fallen below 50%.

    As a married person without children (not entirely by choice) (but with dogs), I’ve had to wrestle with the “what do I contribute” question, too.

  2. I don’t think the issue is “Married vs. Non-Married” (and I’m married with no kids, too.) I think being healthier and living longer is an matter of having people around you that you can trust, whether it’s good friends, relatives, a spouse, or a combination of the above. People who will stick with you when the going gets rough, (as it seems to more and more as you get older), versus people who make you feel as if you’re only as good as your last book, gig, or the night when your mascara looked really good.

  3. Deb and Melinda make good points. I think I’m going through my second midlife crisis, and I’m working out how I’m going to be happy through the next period of my life.

    I always find a way, thank God.

  4. From what I can see, you’re doing everything right. You have the power to attract a wonderful partner into your life if that’s truly what you want. If this blog is a chronicle of your experiences and a slice of your daily life, you’re wonderfully blessed. You’re an accomplished author with caring friends and an eclectic array of interests and pursuits. Stacy Horn is a freaking catch! I say, pick out the one you want and just GO for it. That’s exactly what I did.

  5. FWIW, you are not the only one who ‘fucked up.’ Or did we ??? The book has been written yet…

    Yet on the other hand, given what we ‘know’ anout you, your three books and all they entail,etc.,etc, it is hard to believe that a whole host of eligible men are not trying to break your door down. Hmm…

    BTW-who do you prefer-McDreamy or McSteamy ?

  6. ms. horn, you are forgetting your entire extended echo family…you have A HUGE community. i think you will live a long time, my dear. at least i hope so. xoxo

  7. Thanks Sal!

    David, these days McSteamy. McDreamy is turning into such a pill. McSteamy has a better sense of humor, and he’s more honest and direct. So far.

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