My junk in a trunk | ParkRecord.com

My junk in a trunk

Amy Roberts, Park Record columnist

Assuming I’m not hit by a bus in the near future, I’ll be turning 40 later next month. For the most part, the previous 39 birthdays have come and gone with little fanfare. Because if your birthday is in December and your name is not Jesus, it’s hard to get people excited about it.

But in the last couple weeks I’ve been dwelling on this upcoming birthday a bit, pondering my life and wondering what the next half will bring. Will I move? Get married? Start a new job? Go back to school? Finish the book I’m writing? Take up knitting, yoga or sailing? Will I continue to consult a Magic 8 Ball to make the majority of my life’s biggest decisions? Who knows? But one thing that will happen in the second half of my life is this: I will earn a certificate in elephant husbandry.

During my attempt to avoid a midlife crisis, one snuck up on me and I enrolled in a training program to become qualified as an elephant caretaker. Because it seems like such a realistic career contingency plan in Park City.

To be honest, I’m not really sure why I decided this was a necessary next step in my life. It certainly would be more practical to buy a tiny red convertible, or start sleeping with a guy half my age. But instead, I’m learning more than I ever knew I didn’t know about elephants and will be off to Thailand in the spring to volunteer at a sanctuary and finalize the requirements of earning my pachyderm diploma.

When I told my dad about this plan, our conversation went something like this:

Dad: "What’s new?"

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Me: "Well, I’m taking courses in elephant husbandry."

Dad: "What? You’re marrying an elephant?!"

Me: "No Dad. HUSBANDRY. I’m learning how to care for and manage elephants."

Dad: (After a long pause and heavy sigh.) "I’m not surprised. I always figured if one of my kids decided to run off and join the circus, it’d be you."

The rest of the conversation was spent trying to convince my dad I’m not joining the circus, I am just having a midlife crisis, and pursuing an interest of mine seemed more reasonable than getting a facelift.

As I’ve been mulling over entering my 40s, many of my friends who have already passed that milestone have tried to offer me comfort. One girlfriend told me, "The best part about turning 40 is you just stop worrying about what other people think and you do and say whatever the hell you want."

Then she looked at me with a troubled expression and said: "Oh, well, I guess you already mastered that about 20 years ago. I’m sure there’s something else to look forward to. Let me think of another benefit."

I’m still waiting to hear back from her.

So while I’m trying to find some silver lining (and not the kind I’m starting to discover on my scalp), here are a few things I’ve noticed about approaching the big 4-0:

  • I am grateful I did most of my stupid stuff before YouTube and Facebook were invented.
  • When I get out of bed in the morning, I’m not sure if the creaking I hear is my hardwood floors or my bones.
  • When I get invited to different events on the same night, I choose the one that will get me home the earliest.
  • When I’m trying to read a street sign, I turn down the radio in my car. Because I think it will somehow help me see it better.
  • If I’m on a college campus, no one assumes I’m a student. They assume I’m a professor. Instant PhD!

And of course, the best part is I don’t give a damn if anyone thinks I’m crazy for deciding to look after elephants as a new hobby. They’re not the only ones with thick skin.

Amy Roberts is a longtime Park City resident, freelance writer and the proud owner of two ill-behaved rescue dogs, Boston and Stanley.