I can’t tell if I’m having a midlife crisis. I am not acting out, but I find myself needlessly confessing my age at the start of conversations; my name is A.J. and I am forty one years old. I don’t know if it’s a nervous tic, or a means to extract qualified praise for my appearance, but I present my age as if I expect to be challenged on the point and persuaded otherwise. I think about the fact that I’m forty one more than I think about sex, and when I think about sex I think about the fact that I am forty one.

There is this constant background feeling that I am ten minutes late for a performance review at a job that I didn’t apply for and know none of the details of, but have somehow held for years. It’s not that I mind getting fired from the pretend job that I don’t have, but I wish that I knew what is was that I had failed at. I wasn’t great at being young but there should have been a warning.

I realize that age is just a concept but so is everything else, and it seems strange to pretend that it’s the one that doesn’t matter. Some of this, I’m sure, is because it is dark and cold and my cat knocked the vitamin D under the fridge, but I wonder if coping is a matter of concession or denial? Do I accept that I am old? Do I pretend that it doesn’t matter? Or is there some third option available to proper grownups that currently eludes me?