Jada & Me: I’m Not Divorced Either

Ten years before Jada Pinkett split with Will Smith and remained living with him, I did the same with my former. I had my reasons for residing under one roof, she had hers, but the two of us are not anomalies. In fact, I believe we are among more than a few who opt for this way of splitting up with our significant other. Economics factor in, kids still living at home factor in and abiding friendships can also factor in. Friendly with your no longer significant other? How could that be, you may be wondering? As different as you are from me, I am from you. For whatever our reasons, some of us split and stay.

I am currently pitching a novel I’ve slotted in both women’s fiction and autofiction genres. It’s a story about midlife, that developmental time when my protagonist feels compelled to change its course. In my novel, loss is the trigger and with it a realization that what she hoped to someday feel, she likely never would. For some? This is no big deal. We are all not alike and  priorities don’t all stack up the same. For some, exploring inner desires during this time of life has no appeal. I say, to each his/her own.

Turns out my protagonist wasn’t one of those people. Her story covers this juncture identified in our culture as ‘midlife crisis’ hers precipitated by her mother’s illness and attending her first writers’ conference, which introduces a whole new world to this under-educated mother of two teenage boys. Interspersed throughout her story, my protagonist’s ‘elder’ self looks back at that time with a perspective only gained by living through critical times like these when youth slips away and environmental factors like losing parents, kids leaving the nest, financial challenges, et al, cause some to feel a desperation. A feeling that influences decisions made during this rather delicate time of life our culture easily dismisses with catchy phrases drives this narration.

I believe there is an audience for this kind of story and Jada Pinkett’s recent admission about the arc of her married life is one more indication that midlife crisis is for real. We don’t all handle it in the same way. And really? There is no right way to handle it. I recall the chatter Gwyneth Paltrow’s ‘conscious uncoupling’ caused. The good news about all the news Jada Pinkett and Will Smith are making out here is that those who have no interest in their ongoing drama ultimately hold the ultimate power.

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