I don't live like I used to. When I was 14 I didn't smoke, rarely cussed, couldn't write a short story to save my life, didn't drink coffee, didn't have a job, wasn't independent, thought for myself with mild results, didn't drive, didn't pay taxes, didn't have debts, didn't date, didn't worry about bills, didn't have sex, didn't pray, didn't consider the "big picture", didn't read, didn't listen to music with an ear for appreciation, didn't socialize, didn't go to parties, didn't create, didn't stay up all night, didn't study, didn't want to be a father or be married... there's a lot of things I didn't do when I was younger that I find myself embroiled in now.

Getting closer to thirty is a prime reason for self introspection. I've changed a lot over the years. A whole lot. Things that didn't even enter my mind when I was a kid prey on my mind on an almost daily basis now. The things I think about these days are the things that everyone told me I'd have plenty of time to focus on later in my life. Well, now it's later and I'm thinking about these things and you know what? I wish I didn't have to think about them. And I don't have to think about them. But I do.

I turn 28 in two days (but who's counting?). I have a friend, Ed, who is 10 years older than me almost to the day (May 28th). He's dating a 19-year-old girl who works as a stripper. On a weekly basis she rips his heart out and then hands him the superglue so that he can repair it on his own. It's an ugly cycle for him, but he loves the evil bitch. What can I do? Nevermind. This isn't about him. The point is: what will I be faced with when I'm his age? What's going to be dogging my heels when I take another step closer to forty, middle age? I like to think that my own mid-life crisis won't be as traumatic as his, but I'm for shit when it comes to seeing my own personal future. Seeing a train wreck before it happens is all well and good when you're on the outside, but it's a nifty trick when you're in the middle of it.

I don't think I'll be a living train wreck when I'm 38. At least, I pray to God I won't be.
But I wonder....

All in all I'd have to say that my life has been pretty interesting up to this point. Not exactly movie-of-the-week kind of interesting, but notable in an esoteric kind of way. All my experiences up till now have made me into who I am and I'm a pretty good guy, all things considered. I find murder repugnant, I haven't committed any sexual crimes that I know of, I don't drink alcohol, I don't use drugs, I don't lie or steal or fight or all kinds of things that many of my peers do on a regular basis. I'm fairly responsible (though my bill collectors would have you think otherwise) and I've definitely found my spiritual "center."

Some things are lacking, however. I keep getting told by so many people that I'd be one hell of a good husband and father. That's good to know, I suppose, other people's opinions being what they are. But if it's so true, if I'm such a good catch, how come I'm still single? How come I still feel so alone in this world? At 28? Even at 14, when thinking about such things seemed foreign to me, I figured it would be a given for me to have a family by the time I turned 25 or something close to it.

One thing at a time, I guess. My career is finally starting to move in the direction I'd hoped it would- I landed a job as a graphic and web designer last week and the work I've done has surprised even me. I suppose that once my career is firmly established and I've got my ducks all in a row, I can move on to the marriage thing. But that takes the input of another human being, a woman. What is it that I'm lacking, besides finanacial success, that keeps me single at 28? I'm not ugly. I'm not perverted or mentally unstable. I'm not cruel or unfair or unloving. One would think that I would be well on my way to being a family man by now, right?

I dunno. Maybe this self introspection thing is turning into a whining session. I should probably stop here and take it for granted that when I'm 56 I'll be asking myself a whole new set of questions I'm not even thinking of right now.