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Turning Forty and the Power of Changing One Thing
Episode 624th May 2022 • Forty Drinks: The Podcast About Turning 40 • Stephanie McLaughlin
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Turning Forty and the Power of Changing One Thing

Eric Dyment assumed that who he was in his late 30s was who he was going to be for the rest of his life. He thought he would be an eternal bachelor, a teacher with the freedom to travel during vacations. He felt that’s how he was perceived by people. He accepted the characterization, even though he wasn’t happy about it. But making one change dominoed into changing the course of his entire life. As a student of the “Hero’s Journey,” he realized all the paths he’s followed and “quests” he’s faced gave him the confidence to take what he wanted when he found it.

Guest Bio

Eric Dyment is a native and resident of Concord, New Hampshire. He teaches eighth grade social studies at a public school in his hometown, something he never thought he’d do but finds fulfilling. He is a lover of the outdoors and spends time hiking and mountain biking, though time for those extracurricular pursuits has been limited since getting married, having a baby, and buying a house that came with extensive property and a barn. Now, his spare time is joyously spent on his new family and home responsibilities.

Turning Forty (1:45)

Eric turned forty during the pandemic. He remembers his thirties as a whirlwind. As he approached turning forty, he thought about when his mom turned forty, and said she didn’t take it very well. He did a good job of portraying that turning forty wasn’t a big deal, while inside having very mixed feelings about the milestone birthday.

Our parents' generation faced forty as being “over the hill” or the onset of the midlife crisis, but it doesn’t feel that way for people turning forty now. Now, it’s seen as “only forty” with so much ahead of you still. 

Eric says college gives young people four “free years” to delay adulthood and explore and do what they want, which pushes back the onset of adulthood in a way that it didn’t for our parents’ generation. The timeline and path to adult milestones for things like getting married and having kids is very different for our generation than it was for our parents. In the earlier generation, the course of their entire life could be set by the time they were 22, whether it was college and a career or marriage and family. And, while that still may exist today, it seems to be a minority pathway. 

Existential Dread (5:45) 

Eric remembers feeling some existential dread about turning forty. He had come to terms with not achieving some common milestones including marriage. He earned a Master’s Degree at 37, but had planned to achieve that by 35. 

Turning forty meant he was putting pressure on himself because he “should have done these things by now.” He thought that, if they hadn’t happened by now, then it was possible that they never would. 

He thinks those feelings are left over from our parents’ generation and the idea that “these” [insert arbitrary thing here] are the things you’re “supposed to do” because that’s what they did. Even though his parents have been happily married since their early twenties, Eric didn’t want that for himself. He wanted to live, to explore. 

There was a real tension between the fact that our parents worked so hard to make sure we had opportunities they didn’t, and we could do things they couldn’t - and yet, many times, they tried to hold us to the same standards and timelines that worked for them. The traditions of their generation hadn’t quite fallen apart yet. 

The World is Your Oyster (10:51)

There are more paths available to us today than were available to our parents' generation. He tells his students that they have more opportunities than he did growing up. We don’t have to follow any set path. We can be anything we want. 

Eric wonders if his inner monologue telling he “has to” do certain things is somehow left over from the Great Depression or World War II generation. Today, not only are our opportunities greater, but we don’t have to be just one thing. We can explore multiple pathways over a career. 

Eric had no idea he would become a teacher. He studied politics in college because that’s what he thought he wanted to do. Even after four years of college, he wasn’t sure that politics felt like the right fit for him. After substitute teaching at his old high school, several of his old teachers suggested he go back to school to study education because of how well teaching seemed to suit him and how well he did with the kids. 

Seventeen years later, he’s still enjoying teaching. And even after doing it for several years he never thought he’d enjoy teaching middle school. He thought teaching high school was where he wanted to be - and it’s what he did for a long time. Now, three years into teaching middle school, he’s surprised to find he’s changed his mind - and wishes he had made the change earlier. 

He’s also shifted his thinking about the purpose of an education and his role as an educator. He’s evolved how he views himself in the classroom and how and what he teaches. He now focuses (in addition to content and skills) on his rapport with students and making them feel seen - especially with middle schoolers. 

I Know Who I Am (16:16)

Eric wondered if he would be the eternal bachelor, a teacher who jet-sets during summers and vacations. He felt that’s how he was perceived by people and those were the cards he was dealt. He accepted the characterization, even though he wasn’t happy about it. 

He figured, “if this is who I am now, I’m probably not going to change later.” Many people have those thoughts of “I guess this is who I am because this is who I’ve been.” We feel pigeonholed. 

Eric seized an opportunity to move to south Florida, as much to shake up his life as to prove people wrong who thought he was going to be the same guy forever. 

Moving somewhere with a much more diverse culture is one of the best things Eric ever did. It gave him confidence that he could do things on his own. It also allowed him to take inventory of who he was and what mattered to him, which ultimately led him to move back home after a couple years. 

Eric had been feeling frustrated at his previous school. He felt like every day was Groundhog Day. He quit the job without having anything lined up. Then a position came up at a school in Florida where his best friend worked. Two weeks later he was packing his stuff into a U-Haul and driving himself to Florida. 

People who knew him were shocked. They were comfortable with who he was. He threw everyone for a loop - including himself. He knew that if he didn’t take the opportunity to at least try, he would regret it. And, getting to work with his best friend again was a good motivator. 

In the end, Florida was too hot, too crowded and too flat for Eric. He found building a new network and community was hard. He considered selling most of his possessions and getting a studio apartment on the beach so he could be “that guy,” but it just didn’t suit him. 

Surprise! Your Life is Totally Different! (28:04)

After several years of exploration and introspection, Eric knocked off a whole bunch of milestones within about a year. 

Eric turned forty in March 2021. By March 2020, the pandemic hit and he was fully resigned to the fact that he was the eternal bachelor. He got on some dating apps. In August 2020, he went on a date with a woman he met on Bumble. They met up at a park; he brought a cooler full of snacks. They sat on a park bench for three hours and earned themselves some very sore bums. By February 2021, they knew things were going well and they started to talk about getting married and looking at houses. Then things sped up. 

He proposed in May 2021, after finding out the offer they put in on a house was accepted, and that his wife-to-be was pregnant. They closed on their house in August and got married in September. Their son was born in January 2022. 

Eric realized what he wanted and what he had and knew it was time to make bold moves. Things he never thought he wanted before turned out to be exactly what he did want. Finding someone to spend the rest of his life with turned out to be important to him. 

With respect to having kids, he had an “if it happens, it happens” attitude. He didn’t think it was going to be for him. Finding out his wife-to-be was pregnant excited him, which wasn’t the initial reaction he assumed he’d have. If he had to bet, he would have put money on ‘dread’ being the initial reaction to the news of a baby on the way. He was wrong. 

It’s remarkable how much growth someone can have in a short time. 

Eric knows how cliché the phrase, “when you know, you know” is. And yet, that’s what happened to him. 

He reflected back on his conversation about his role as an educator and he realized that it also informed the kind of person he wanted to be with, the kind of values that were important to him. His wife is a nurse and both of their professions are about giving back and caring for other people. But she’s also the perfect amount of snarky and sarcastic for Eric’s taste. 

Expecting their first child, their hopes for that baby are that he is a good person, but also that he’s got a good sense of snark. 

Both Eric and his wife sometimes look around at their surroundings and wonder what they’ve gotten themselves into. The house they bought is bigger than they expected. And it came with a barn! Eric didn’t think he was “barn person” but it turns out he is!

They know that’s all good, though, and they wouldn’t want it any other way. 

The Hero's Journey(36:07)

After following so many paths that weren’t necessarily the “wrong” paths, but weren’t the “right” path either, Eric is reminded of the concept of the Hero’s Journey. 

On the Hero’s Journey, the hero has a mentor who helps him along. Eric looks back and can see people who influenced him and supported him. The hero goes on quests and faces challenges and, eventually, returns to his “real world.” He sees his trip to Florida as one of those quests that made him stronger. 

The thing that makes him so confident about all the changes in his life in such a short time is the absence of doubt. He’s historically been notorious for doubting himself, but he never second-guessed himself about proposing to his wife. He never doubted wanting to start a life with her. That’s what feels different from the paths he’s followed before. 

All the paths he’s followed and “quests” he’s faced gave him the confidence to take what he wanted when he found it. The years leading up to turning forty prepared him for all these changes. 

Nostalgia for Past Selves (40:42)

Eric sometimes feels nostalgia for the person he used to be and the life he left behind. Mostly he yearns for time and a lack of schedule and flexibility. Being footloose and fancy free has turned into a neverending list of things to do with the house or preparing for the baby. But he realized that he likes doing the household chores. He may not always be excited to stack wood but, for now, he’s loving it. And maybe someday he’ll be nostalgic for the guy who loved stacking wood. 

Not that long ago, he wondered what his life would look like if he didn’t meet his wife. He thought that he would have traveled in summer of 2021, which would have been great. The flip side, though, would have been that he wouldn't have had someone to share it with - other than on social media. He wouldn’t have made memories with someone. Selfies are fun, but he would prefer to be making memories with someone. And he’s come to realize that, while travel is great, even a trip to Target can be memorable if you're with the right person. 

The Forty Drinks Podcast is presented by Savoir Faire Marketing/Communications

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00:00 Hi, and welcome to the Forty Drinks Podcast. I'm your host, Stephanie McLaughlin. Today we're talking to my friend Eric Dyment, who assumed that who he was in his late thirties was who he was going to be for the rest of his life. But then he made one little change, a change that dominoed into changing the course of his entire life. It may sound like hyperbole, but I promise you it's not. Let's start at the beginning.

00:39 Hi, Eric. How are you? Thanks so much for joining us. Nice to join you again. It's nice to talk to you again. See you again. Yeah, same here.

00:47 So for folks who are listening, a little background on Eric, you and I first met you were roommates with my now-husband when we met and started dating. So that means we've known each other for ten years now. And man, a lot has changed in both of our worlds in ten years, wouldn't you say? A little bit. Yeah, right. Yeah.

01:17 And I could say the same on my part as well. And of course, I decided to do things in a more sort of meandering and organic fashion, whereas you decided to do things all at once. But we're going to get to that in a minute. Let's do some suspense here. So you and I actually spoke earlier this year when I was just sort of dreaming up this podcast. I reached out to a few people to sort of talk about turning 40.

01:47 And so you turned 40 during the pandemic. Yes. Okay. And tell me a little bit about how you felt approaching 40. Yeah. Tell me how you were feeling. Being in your thirties is the whirlwind experience all in itself because when you're just turning 30, you're like you're not really in your thirties when you're 30. And then by the time you get to mid thirties, I'm in my thirties.

02:15 And so as I approach turning 40, I thought about how my mother took it and she turned 40. She didn't take it well, but for me, it was not a big deal. I think that's the front I kind of put on while in the back of my brain, I'm like, oh, my God, I'm turning 40. I feel so old. But at the same time, I don't feel old. I don't know. Right? Yeah.

02:44 I was just kind of doing my own thing. And so turning 40 was just going to be like another thing for me. Well, it's interesting, isn't it, how 40 has changed over the course of generations. I think when my parents turned 40, their generation was very much of the mind that 40 was midlife crisis time and it was crazy things. Leave your family for the secretary or buy a fast car or those kinds of crazy things.

03:16 I'm sure we're hugely stereotypical, but I think the stereotypes are based on some truth. Somewhere when my folks turned 40, their generation, it was very much of a midlife crisis, and it didn't feel that way for me. And it doesn't feel that way for sort of the folks who are right around 40 now. Would you agree? I do agree, because now it's like, oh, you're just 40.

03:48 It's like there's so much ahead of you. I feel like with the number of people that go on to college, it's like they can delay being an adult if they get like four, three years to kind of explore and do whatever they want. And so it kind of pushes back that adulthood where our parents were like, you get married and have kids and get a job when you're 22 or whatever. It's definitely a little bit different for us. Absolutely. Yeah, you're right.

04:18 A generation ago, at 22, too, you set the course of your life by the time you were 22, whether it was college and after or marriage and straight into family. You're right. It was very much. And I know that there are folks who still do that now, but they seem to be more the minority. And certainly I have some friends who have kids in college now or kids actually delaying college now because of the pandemic world.

04:45 And so things I think are going to be wildly different for them while there by the time they get to 40. So you said your mom had a tough time with it. Do you remember anything about that? Yeah, I was pretty young at the time. But when she turned 40, I remember just her overall being upset, like her best friend tried doing like a big birthday thing about it and were balloons all over the neighborhood. And my mom didn’t like a lot of attention anyways.

05:13 But the fact that it was all about turning 40, I think kind of added to the existential dread that we all face every once in a while in our lives. But with 40, I think it hit her hard because for years she always said that she was just turning 29. Yeah, but my mom, fortunately for her, she's got good genes and she doesn't look like the, she still looks like she's in her 40s, but hopefully she hears us at some point. Hears that compliment.

05:39 We'll make sure, we'll make sure. It's funny. You just use a term that you used previously. When you and I talked, you actually said, I don't know if this is a familial thing or a milestone thing. You talk about having your own existential dread while you were facing 40. So tell me a little bit about that. Yeah. I'd come to terms with not doing some of the big milestone things that you mentioned before, like marriage or anything like that.

06:11 I kind of put that off. I look back at it. Well, I kind of did some of those things, but not a lot of those things. And I was able to get my master's degree. But that didn't happen by 35. It happened like by 37 instead, I guess I was doing all okay in that sense. And definitely something that turning 40 meant that I felt like I was putting more pressure on myself to arbitrary kind of thing that “you should have done these things by now.”

06:41 And if they had, then they weren't going to happen at all potentially. So it's interesting because the word ‘should’ comes up so many times in these conversations. And I'm curious what external authority or what mark was it that made you believe that you should have things by a certain time or achieved things by a certain time?

07:11 Do you have any way to even interpret where that comes from? It's like it's leftover from the previous generation. Right. But these are the things you ought to do because that's what your parents did and that's what they did and all that. But I feel like at the same time, like the previous generation or two parents, they were able to make it so like their kids didn't have to necessarily follow the same kinds of standards that they had to.

07:44 So for me, my parents, they got married super young, super young. And I think that always stayed embedded in the back of my brain somewhere, like don't do those things. Like you can do other things. Right. But at some point, you don't act on it and potentially won't happen at all for me. My parents are happily married, by the way. I don't want to make it sound awful, but I didn't want to just do all things in my twenties or anything like that.

08:17 I wanted to explore things and then I don't know. No, it does. I totally get what you're saying. Right. Because I feel the same way. Right. So my parents got married super young. They had me super young, and my brothers were not far behind me. So, yeah, very similar. And you're exactly right. They worked so hard to make sure that we had opportunities that they didn't or that we could do things differently.

08:47 And yet they tried to hold us to the same standards and timelines that worked for them. Right. And yet the world changed, and so now it's so much harder. So my parents early life is almost a mythical creature because they were a one income family.

09:18 My dad worked full time. My mom didn't work. They owned their own home. They raised three children. My mother stayed home until my youngest brother was in first grade. And then she went to college. And it's just not possible anymore or very difficult or very unique to follow that path. And yet you're right.

09:45 I remember my dad doing a lot of sort of ‘shoulding.’ You should get a good job or he was very traditional and maybe that's what it was. Maybe it was just the traditions that they tried to stick to that. I know for me and I'm a few years older than you. They hadn't quite fully fallen apart yet. Those traditions.

10:13 When I graduated college, it was still possible that you could get a job and be with that company for your entire career. Right. Very shortly thereafter, that was falling apart. And the kids who did start those jobs got sold a bill of goods because they're no longer with those companies. I would bet. But it's a whole different experience now, the kind of world we live in and things aren't linear anymore.

10:43 Right. You don't have to do one thing to get you have to do A to get to B and B to get to C, and so on. I think, at least for us, different paths, like more paths that people take now. They've definitely opened up a lot more for a lot of different people, which is great. I tell that to my students, too, more opportunities than even I had growing up. And you don't have to follow one set path. You can do anything you really want.

11:13 It's good to explore more of those things as well. Whereas before, I felt like I don't know, I wonder if it's like a leftover from the Great Depression, World War II kind of generation. I know you have to do these things. Right. And not only do you have to do these things, but you have to be one thing. You have to know what you're going to be. And now I think people have multiple careers. Right. And didn't you have some of that, too?

11:42 You didn't know that you were going to be doing what you're doing now, is that right? No, I have no idea. I mean, I went to college and studied politics. I thought that's what I wanted to do again. But I also was pretty naive going into college. I wasn't planning on going to college at first. I was going to join the military. Oh, wow. But I had to apply to school anyway because my guidance counselor said like, oh, you have decent grades. You should check out some schools. And I did and got a scholarship.

12:15 The military went to the wayside. But even after college, it was one of those things really what I want to do. I went to school for four years. I'm not sure what politics really didn't sound intriguing to me anymore, at least. As for anything in a career. And so I kind of fell into teaching, like working in the school. It was actually my old teachers substituted at my old high school.

12:45 And some of my old teachers were like, you should go back to school for education. Like, check it out. You're great with the kids here. So, I kind of just like rolled with it from there and I’m still doing it 17 years later. But even you've said to me before that when you thought to be a teacher, you never thought you'd be a middle school teacher?

13:17 Oh, yeah, absolutely. No. Because growing up in school. I remember people saying like, oh, you should be a teacher. No way. It's like no teenager, no 15-year-old boy wants to hear that they want to be a teacher. They want to be like, the rock star or something like that instead of being a teacher. And then when I started teaching high school, I would look down on middle school teachers to go, you teach middle school? No way. Now I'm here and I kind of like it, it's funny.

13:47 And so just discovering that at this point because I've only been teaching middle school for my third year now, I wish I did this earlier. Isn't that a great part of the evolution, though? Right? And that's a lot of what I'm exploring these years leading up to 40, where you Peel off all the things that you thought you thought teaching high school would be cooler because high school kids are cooler.

14:22 Right. But then as you got into it, you're like, “actually, I'm really drawn to the thing I thought I hated from the beginning.” Right. It's like that's what really sings to me. Were there other transitions like that through your middle thirties that you felt like sort of uncovering pieces of you or learning things about yourself that you didn't know before? Yeah.

14:52 I think again, what this one is more like, education related is like thinking about the purpose of school. Like, that started to change for me. Like, you think of school, you go to school and you're these things and you graduate, and that's it. My best friend, my best friend's name is Jeremy. He and I would have these in-depth philosophical discussions about what education is supposed to be and what it is that we're trying to do for students.

15:26 And it kind of reshaped my opinion about the purpose of an education and my role as an educator. And that was about early mid-thirties. It was probably around 33 years old at that time and starting to change how I view myself in the classroom and how and what I teach. It's not so much about the content. So now it's more about skills, certainly, but the relationships and rapport with students and making them feel like they're a person, especially middle schoolers.

16:01 They want to be seen as a person because they're developing their personalities more, like they're coming out more. And so that was a big shift for me, just seeing how I see myself differently as a teacher. And I think there were other things for you as you approached 40 where you thought, oh, I think I know who I am. So tell us a little bit about that.

16:30 You had a moment where you just sort of said, the heck was it all, I'm out of here. Yeah. Every once in a while I would just want to just leave things and go away and travel or go on a road trip, a Jack Kerouac kind of thing, maybe. I don't know. I kind of saw myself like, well, am I going to be that person?

17:00 The eternal bachelor not tied down to a lot of things. The teacher that jet-sets in the summertime or every vacation or whatever. But priorities do change. I kind of, like, put myself in that corner where like, that's what I've been dealt. That's how I'm perceived by people.

17:29 And I accepted it, but not necessarily happily accepted it. Right. So it's like, well, if this is who I am now, I'm probably not going to change later. I'll just be that way for the rest of my life. Which I don't know, sounds kind of gloomy, I guess, when you say it out loud like that. But no, but it's so universal. I mean, it may be gloomy, but there is that moment where we and I had it too, right?

17:59 Where it's like, oh, I guess this is who I am because this is who I've been and this is who people see me as. And I don't see a way out of it. Yeah. Okay. I'll go on being the eternal party girl who without much depth or other things you could say about me in my twenties and thirties. Right. I know exactly what you're talking about.

18:28 That friends would sort of grow up and get married and have kids and sort of like, leave me in the dust without even giving me a chance to see that I fit into their new world because they already had me pegged as the single party girl. And don't get me wrong, for a long time I was that girl. But there was definitely a transition period in my later thirties where it was like, well, I can come to your house and have dinner and I'm okay hanging out with the baby.

19:02 But I wasn't given the opportunity because I was sort of pigeonholed into a certain place. I hope you're enjoying my conversation with Eric as much as I am. And wanted to pause for a moment to say, if you're enjoying this conversation, please join me on social media. The Forty Drinks podcast is on Instagram and Facebook as Forty Drinks F-O-R-T-Y drinks all one word. Head over there and tell me what you think about today's conversation and whether you can relate to Eric's story.

19:33 All right, now back to Eric picked up and got the hell out of Dodge at one point, right? You moved. You sort of like took your life and shook it up completely. Yeah. That was mostly because people thought I wouldn't do that. So for a long time, I would just be like, this is what I do. Eric is not going to go anywhere. He would never move to South Florida, ever.

20:00 But when the moment came mostly to kind of prove people wrong and just to think of me differently for sure and really glad I did it. Really happy I did it. What did it do for you? I want to open my eyes that living in a place completely different in a place that is definitely more diverse culturally was one of the best things I ever did.

20:29 And it gave me more confidence in some ways that I could do things on my own. It also made me kind of take inventory about who I was and what mattered to me the most, and which is a lot of reasons why I moved back. I think being down there, I was really isolated as well here in South Florida, just outside of Fort Lauderdale and very Metropolitan areas, but yet didn't feel in the right place.

21:07 I always felt like a fish out of water there. What inspired you to go down there? How did you go from teaching high school in New Hampshire to being in Fort Lauderdale? So it was a challenge. One, it was like I was working in a school that I was just tired of working in, and it was kind of like the movie Groundhog Day. And except I was getting more and more frustrated with where I was and was ready to quit that job anyway.

21:41 I quit that job. I'm out of here. I'm done. I got to advocate for myself, and I'm just gone. And I quit that job without even having another one lined up. And when the position in Florida came up again, my best friend Jeremy was in Florida, and he's like, well, we might have a position here at our school. My school is like, let me check. And then he did. He's like, oh, we have an opening here. You should definitely apply.

And so that was in July of:

22:40 Not anymore. Yeah. You always seem to me very much like the quintessential New Hampshire guy with here you're so outdoorsy, ride bikes, you hike. I just couldn't imagine you not in mountains and not in woods. And here you are headed to South Florida. Everyone through a loop, including myself, because I had accepted that I was going to be a certain person here.

23:14 And I realized that if I don't take the opportunity to at least try it, I'll probably regret it. And more than anything, I wanted to work with my best friend again. If anything, that was at the top of the list. Yes. Moving down there and having a little bit of a support system healthy. I didn't have that at all. I don't know if it was gone. Right. I always liked the idea of it, because even before that, I applied for a couple of other international schools.

23:46 I was told by an educational consultant, he's like, well, you're young, you don't have any kids, you're not married. International schools would love to hire you. And that kind of like something like a commodity that says someone would hire me. But at the same time, it's like you're alone, right? They're happy to have you because there's only one of you. You're cheaper that way. You don't come with baggage.

24:14 Okay, so I actually interviewed at a school in Dubai. I did an interview with the principal there and, like, sounds great. And then he described where I'd be living. I'm like, that sounds amazing. And then he said, you'd be mostly on campus the entire time within the confines of the campus. I'm like, that sounds more like a prison than anything. That's not good.

24:41 I didn't get another interview, so having a support system moving forward definitely was helpful. And I don't think I would have done it otherwise. But everyone else, why did you come back? Besides Florida being too hot, too crowded, and too flat?

year, and I remember March of:

25:38 They made me feel very accepted. They always included these things like that. I'm eternally grateful to them for everything that they've done for me, for me. They’d go and do their thing, and I’d kind of do my own thing. I'm kind of introverted so trying to get out there was really hard, and I tried a number of times.

26:04 And so, in March of that year, I made the decision that I was not going to stay for another school year. I did think, like, well, if I moved to a different town in Florida, I thought about selling off of most of my possessions and putting all my money into the studio apartment on the beach and being ‘that guy’ instead would be a good idea. Looking back now, that would be an awful idea. It's not you.

26:34 I mean, it's so glamorous, right? Oh, my God. Patrick does this all the time. Patrick. Sorry to leap from this, right? He will be out and shopping or looking at stuff or whatever. This one's perfect. And you will love this. Carhartt jackets. He loves Carhartt jackets, right? And it's like, oh, I'm going to get a Carhartt jacket, and I'm going to get some work boots. And I'm like, who is this person?

27:04 Like, you don't have this life. You are not. Like, I get it. He's picture perfect, right? But it's not you the Bachelor on the beach in Miami. Like, straight out of Two and a Half Men. Like, I get it. It's glam, but oh, my God, it's so not you. If Patrick does want those things. I always need help stacking wood, cutting wood. I will tell him.

27:35 I will tell him this weekend, I think I threw my wife through because when we moved, I was like, we have property that needs to be maintained. So right now, every weekend, I tell her I'm going to do some chore’n. I do my chores around the house outside. And yeah, I put on my boots and go outside. Who are you? Not the guy I met.

28:08 So now that we've said that, we have to back up two steps because I think did a lot of your sort of, like, churning and transition, probably internally. I mean, I know you had the big move to Florida and back, but a lot of that sort of happened, I think, over time. And then in about a year, tell us what you did.

in March, like, March:

29:04 And one of the dates on Bumble – have to give them credit for it when the credit is due - I met a wonderful woman on there. And we're like, well, what do you do for a pandemic date? So you're really limited. Like, you can't go to restaurants, really, and you don't know where other people are at, like, their comfort level. And so we met up at a park, and we had this date there. I brought snacks, I brought a cooler of snacks, and so we ate snacks, sat on a park bench for like 3 hours.

f from there that's August of:

30:03 And I ended up proposing in May after we had found out that when we put an offer in on the house, which we ended up getting in August of that year. But in around April, we found out that she was pregnant.

t houses in January, March of:

30:51 I don't know. You sure do. I realized what I wanted and what I had and I wanted to lose that. I come to my realization last year. I guess the Pandemic will do that too. When you think long and hard, could this be the end? Things I never thought I wanted before turned out to be things that I really wanted, namely being finding someone to spend the rest of my life with.

31:27 I never wanted to have kids before. And when I found out she was pregnant - and eventually I warmed up to the idea, like if it happens, it happens - having kids. And then finding out that my wife was pregnant, I was very excited. And it was not the initial reaction I thought I’d have. Dread was going… I would have thought. I thought I would put money on it. Like dread will be the emotion I’d feel, but it was not. It was excitement.

31:56 So it's remarkable about how much growth someone can have in a short amount of time, I guess. But I don't know, it's just crazy to think about, like, the past year, all the big changes. I feel like for you, you're like one of those bands you hear of that are like, oh, hey, they're an overnight success. Except that they've been touring around the country in a nine-passenger van for eight years.

32:26 Right. You put in the work, you did the due diligence, you did sort of like the personal growth and the introspection, and then you had your overnight success. Right. Where you sort of checked all the boxes in a year, which just makes me giggle because go big. Right. But I don't know. It's cliche when people say, oh, when you know, you know, kind of thing. But it was kind of like that. It was what makes it work.

32:54 And what clicked was really like, I go back to that, like saying before about the change in how I view my role as an educator. It kind of also changed what I look for in other people. And I can't be with anyone unless they have a certain set of values and beliefs that align with mine. And being with someone like, my wife is a nurse. And so for me, it's a position similar to teaching where you have to give back.

33:25 And I'm not trying to come off of as pious or pretentious , but there's like a duty or responsibility that is inherently part of the job. And that was important to me. I feel like that's one thing that kind of came up to the top of the list. Because before I didn't really think about that in the dating world, I resigned myself to being the Bachelor, and that was lower on the list.

33:55 So meeting her and seeing like an equal in that sense, equal in that, but also equal in snarkiness was important, as was sarcasm. That was really good too. So, okay, I live with this person, and now that we're expecting her first child in six weeks, we only hope that our child is a good person, but it's also snarky.

34:28 We don't care about anything else at this point. All you need is ten fingers, ten toes, and a nice sensibility of wise ass. Exactly. That's all you need in a person. Well, clearly the baby will have it because it's coming from you guys. So that's wonderful. All these transitions happening so quickly. Do you feel a sense of whiplash or do you feel a sense of calm? Do you feel a sense of inevitability?

34:59 This is a lot inside, just under a year and a half. How are you internalizing these things? How are you coming to terms with them? I think we've been doing a good job internalizing it. There's definitely days where… the other day we both looked at her belly. She's kind of very popped. She's eight months pregnant, and we both looked down her belly and like, big guys like, oh, gosh, oh, no. Every now and again, what did we get ourselves into?

35:29 And we did that with the house, too. We look around and we bought way we bought a bigger house than we expected to buy. The opportunity came up for this wonderful property, and they're like, well, we'd be stupid not to buy it because it's a wonderful home that was bigger than we wanted. And it's like a barn. I'm a barn person. I'm a barn person. Now, what did we do?

35:56 But we know that it's all good in the end. We wouldn't want it any other way. It's a lot of crazy stuff. Big changes upfront, but I think it's all going to be good down the road. That's awesome. What is it about where you are that makes you really feel like you're on the right path, as opposed to the paths? All the paths you took before that maybe weren't the wrong path, but they weren't the right path, right.

36:25 Maybe they were just part of a journey or a tangent. I think you and I have talked a little bit before about the hero's journey. With the hero's journey, there are so many gaming lingo, there's so many side quests, and it's not necessarily that they're the wrong path because they make you who you are. But is there a difference between how you felt on some of those tangent paths and how you feel now just sort of internally, like in your heart, in your soul, in your stomach?

36:56 With the hero's journey, the hero has the mentor, and the mentor kind of helps the hero along. And I think back, and I think that's the people that in my life that I respected that influenced me the most. The hero goes on quests and they go through challenges and all that, and then eventually they go back to their real world. Like my trip to Florida is one of those quests that you eventually come out of stronger in the end, that kind of thing.

37:29 And so with now all this craziness has happened in my life. If anything, there's not been doubt any of it. The amount of doubt. I'm notorious for doubting myself and second-guessing myself. I never second-guessed myself about proposing to my wife. I never doubted wanting to start a life with her. And I think that's what's different. It was like the confidence.

37:54 So everything that happened before was just building up my confidence to really take what I want that matters to me the most. So I think that's what past few years leading up to prepared before. So there's never any doubt at all. Like people when they get married, they say, I'm so nervous about getting married and all that. I wasn't nervous at all. I was not nervous.

38:22 And I was a blithering mess of a human trying to read a book quote that we wrote for each other. We go into quotes from different books that we like. So it's literally messed during that. But I wasn’t nervous because I knew I was making the right decision. It's so interesting that you say that. I love that. I love that thought process about the confidence and the doubt. I remember this is one of those really clear memories.

38:47 I was at a Bachelorette party for a woman I used to know, and she and another woman were there. Well, she was obviously getting married. The other woman was already married. And I was dating a guy at the time who wasn't that nice to me and was very cavalier with me and my feelings. And I remember we were sitting at an outdoor restaurant, and I was texting with him or I texted him and he hadn't texted me back.

39:17 And I was sort of like that drama of sort of being with the wrong person. And I remember sort of talking to these two women and they sort of looked at each other and they were like, oh, yeah, do you remember that? Yeah. That didn't exist in their world. And they weren't unkind about it. Obviously, they were friends. But to me, there was like, what are you talking about?

39:45 Because that had always been that not right fit and not feeling confident had always sort of been a part of my relationship. And now with Patrick, I so get it. And I so understand that calm at your core, right? There's no longer a Tempest inside your belly or nerves or wondering.

40:15 There's calmness there. And it is so comforting. It's such a wonderful feeling. And so I get what those two women were saying that day. That feeling of just being comfortable and confident in your relationship with someone and knowing even if things get bumpy or things get grumpy, nothing to worry about.

40:44 I totally agree. Do you ever feel any nostalgia for the person you used to be, for that life you sort of left behind sometimes? Sure. I think now that looking at fatherhood especially, there's definitely the time part of it or the lack of schedule that I miss the most.

41:07 I think that's what I long for the most, being able and my wife and I talked about being able to, to get up and go somewhere for the day and not really have to worry about anyone else's schedule or anything like that. And now it's the never-ending list of things to do, whether it's with the house, or preparing for the kid to arrive, or anything like that. It’s never-ending. I realized I like doing the things around the house. I like doing the chores and all that.

41:37 And I might regret saying that now, later on. But now I get excited to do those things. I don't know, maybe five, 10 years down the road I will think of that as nostalgia and want… because I get excited to do that now. I’ll miss the days of stacking some wood. Because I get excited to do that right now, I get to go stack some wood right now; that’s what I’ve got to do this weekend. All right.

42:06 But yeah, right now it's the lack of schedule and flexibility. I'll be honest, not that long ago I was thinking, I thought to myself, well, what if I didn't meet her? What would things have been like? I probably would have been in another relationship with someone that, right out of the bat, we fought. And I knew that was awful, but I probably would’ve stayed. And the other thing was like, well, if I didn't meet my wife, what would I have done this past summer?


43:06 And so now for me, it doesn't really matter as much destination or anything like that. Now a trip to Target can be memorable if you're right with the right person. I think that's something I have come to realize over the past year, turning forty. I agree completely. We went on a vacation maybe two years ago. Now we're planning for a vacation. Like, where should we go? Where should we go? And Patrick was saying, I want to go to Seattle.

43:36 He was like adamant on going to Seattle because he wanted to live out some, you know, exactly where I'm going, right? He wanted to live out some, like Grunge fantasy tour in Seattle. And I lived through the nineties and had zero interest in Grunge, but it was an adventure he was so excited about.

44:04 And we had so much fun and he was so lit up like a tree that I didn't care that there wasn't really anything there that I was that interested in. Don't get me wrong, I loved Seattle. We had a wonderful time. We'll go back. That's how much we liked it. But it was not a trip. That was like, quote, unquote for me, right?

fantasy Patrick has had since:

45:02 It wasn't even like this was in my pop culture periphery. It was all brand new, but it lit him up so much that it just made me so happy to be there with him. I sort of feel like we could do the same thing. Well, we don't do it at Target. We do it in the grocery store. We have so much fun at the grocery store.

45:22 I think it's probably anybody listening to this might be like, that's a little gross, but it's true that couple we are, we literally dance in the aisles at the grocery store and we wonder whether or not we're going to be on the Christmas party reel - when they take the embarrassing things that the customers do and put it together on the Christmas reel. We're like, I wonder if we made the Christmas reel on that one.

45:52 It's ridiculous. I'm so happy for you to have found all of these things at once. Thank you so much. Yeah, it's been a whirlwind for sure, but that's the one to be in, I think. Absolutely fortunate. You are so fortunate. And it is such a wonderful whirlwind. And you have only yet just begun, because in eight weeks, I think your world is going to change quite a bit.

46:21 Yeah, it's exciting. There is a little bit of fright, but it's exciting. It's a good fright. It's all going to change, but I think very exciting. Definitely. I can't wait for you. Eric, thank you so much for joining me on the podcast today. I have enjoyed our conversation so much, and I just am so grateful that you agreed to come and chat with me. This has been wonderful.

46:52 Thank you so much for listening. If you liked what you heard today, please subscribe wherever you listen and share with your friends. If you or someone you know has a great story about either a midlife personal evolution or specifically about turning 40, I want to hear it. And I probably want to invite that person to join me on the podcast. Go to fortydrinks.Com/contact to submit a name. Now listen, I'm glad we have a week before the next episode.

47:23 That should give you time to go to the grocery store, head to the deli and buy some Bologna because I'm going to need you to do like Steve Martin and put a slice of Bologna in each shoe so you feel funny because next week I am talking to an exceptionally funny lady who spent 15 years doing stand-up comedy. Most of that in New York city. But as she approached her 40th birthday, she started to wonder if she wanted to do comedy anymore. I hope you'll join me for my conversation with Selena Coppock.

47:54 The Forty Drinks Podcast is produced by Out




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