This was written and posted on April 4, 2006, but given that my memory ain't what it used to be, I wanted to get this out while I was thinking about it. Tomorrow, I might be too hung over to type.
Today I turn 35. Yeah, yeah, save your Happy Birthdays. I'm not thrilled about it. As the date has crept closer, I've found myself having all sorts of disturbing thoughts. For instance, throughout the majority of humanity's time on this blue ball, thirty five was fucking ancient -- a good run, all things considered. If infant mortality, childhood diseases, one's fellow man, or a sabre-toothed tiger didn't kill you, then something else probably would long before 35. I'm a strong believer in genetic memory -- memetics? -- or rather that the lessons we learned while flinging poo at each other in the trees and chucking spears at mastadons got hard-coded in our brains somewhere along the way. I have no data, but I feel that our fear of the unknown and unseen hearkens back to this simpler time. I so feel that teenage boys, thousands of years ago, would have been handed a club or a spear and sent out to kill giant sloths and woolly mammoths, something that took incredible energy and a certain amount of bloodlust. This is why so many teenage boys these days are so dangerous; they have a genetic memory that they need to be killing stuff, but since we aren't hunting and gathering anymore, they have to take out their bloodlust in Halo 2 or in their lunch rooms. But also, this idea of hard-coded memories and thoughts leads me to believe that the feeling of dread, oldness, and worry I feel on the eve of my birthday has something to do with all this mumbo-jumbo.
Or maybe we just live in youth-obsessed culture, and I need to get over it.
But anyway, I don't want to have any more birthdays. I don't mean I'm going to swallow a bottle of sleeping pills. I mean that I have had 34 birthday celebrations, and I feel that is plenty. I don't want anybody to make a big deal about my aging any more. I'm going to be positively insulted if my cow orkers hang those black streamers and over the hill decorations in my cubicle, though they will probably wait until I am 40 to do that.
I'm happy, though. My daughter just turned three; her birthdays I always want to celebrate. I'm doing well materially. But I don't know. I feel myself aging.
Slightly off topic: My mom handed me a stack of old photos last week. Mostly they were old pictures of me growing up, but some were of her and my father, her first husband (she's on her third.) The first thing about all this was that I learned that the difference between my parents' wedding and my birthday was seven months. And I wasn't premature. I always suspected there was a shotgun aspect to their marriage because my mom was 17 when they got married, and that doesn't happen very often, not even in 1971, not even in Kentucky. (insert hillbilly jokes here) This was just one of several illusions about who I am and were I come from that I have had to take a hammer to in the last year or so. It's a hard thing when you start putting two and two together, and the glass houses you've built for yourself -- the illusions you've constructed surrounding your family -- come crashing down. A bit melodramatic but this is what is going through my mind now. I've had to reconsider a lot lately.
Another thing about these pictures is that I saw much more of my dad then I have ever seen. He abandoned us when I was threeish, and I didn't see him again until I saw him in his casket in 1984. Having been a father myself for three years, I can't imagine leaving. This leads me to think that my father was a grade A asshole. Blah, blah, blah -- I shouldn't judge him -- blah, blah -- walk a mile in his shoes -- blah, blah. The guy was a hippy and a vagabond. There was something indescribably wrong with him that he could leave his own flesh and blood like that. So this makes me feel pretty superior and haughty as I look down my nose on this 20 years dead chap I've never met. But I'm 35, I'm reflecting, and that's what's going through my mind.
All those pictures of me growing up weren't good for cheering me up either because I had a pretty shitty childhood. Wah, poor me. But what I am coming to realize is that my past is crap and my family growing up (to greater and lesser extents) was crap, and that's a substantial part of what makes us who we are. So what's left to define me except my present -- who I am now, my family now, my work now?
2006-04-05 update: OK so now I'm officially 35. This morning at the bus stop I saw a meteor burning through the atmosphere in the vicinity of Venus. I also think I saw a satellite or the ISS, but that might just be wishful thinking. It looked like it was really fucking high up in the atmo, whatever it was. If these things are omens, what could they mean?
Last night my wife, daughter, and I went to a Japanese hibachi grill for dinner. I had teriyaki steak, tekka maki, and a 22 oz. Kirin Ichiban. Yummers. Then we went to the greatest ice cream shop in known space, Graeter's. By the end of the evening I was engorged like a tick with great food. In fact, this morning, I was still full so I skipped breakfast apart from a couple small biscuits and a Coke Zero.
My hopes of skating through the day unnoticed at work have already failed. One of my cow orkers has already wished me a happy birthday. I hope they don't do anything stupid. But if they took me to Michael Murphy's, a sort-of Irish pub, for a beer, I wouldn't resist. The bartender there has enormous jumbly-wumblies and ain't afraid to show them off.