Archive for June, 2012

Birthdays

Posted in Uncategorized on June 6, 2012 by Justin S. Smith

I remember on my twentieth birthday, my friend Ken called and I answered the phone (land line, no caller ID, I knew it was him by the voice and what he said.) “Happy half way to 40.” <click> Now I’m halfway to 70.

The mark of time passing, annual celebration of survival, congratulations you’re not dead yet. With few exceptions, the more birthdays you have, the less they mean. Once you become conscious of your own existence, birthdays are pretty awesome, for a while. There’s some crap early on (my daughter Chloe put out the candle on her first birthday cake by grabbing it, that really sucked for her, but she won’t remember it) but pretty much from 2 or 3 until 10 you have that one day where you are a virtual monarch, if only in your head.

Then what? 11 and 12 are still good, but you’ve crossed into “double digits” already and so nothing really spectacular. 13, you’re a teenager now. 16, you can drive. 18, you can vote, join the military, and be an independent adult. 21, you can legally drink in the USA in misery while thinking about how the “great” things you could do at 18 are really not so great. 25, you can rent a car.

30 was weird for me. One of my friends turns 30 today and may soon understand. It took until 32 before I stopped answering “how old are you?” with “twenty…uh, thirty <whatever>.” Somehow in my head I was still a youth; a young man in his twenties ready to go. 30 seemed older than me.

So we celebrate our kids’ birthdays much more than our own. We see their 7 candles and think of our 7 candles so long ago. We mourn their growing up: “oh my goodness, my baby is 10 years old.” but I think we really are just freaking out because the cadence of the drums that we have trying to ignore by treating our own birthdays like just another day becomes amplified by the celebrations of our children growing up and the loud slow beating of the march toward death can not be ignored.

But you didn’t come here for a pep talk. No, I’m not twenty-something anymore. Today I cross the line of being closer to 40 than to 30 though, time being unrepentantly linear, this has been true since I crossed that threshold. I like to think that at 35 I am happier and more content with my life than when I was 30 or 25. I’m not a rock star, but I walk through my front door to wild screams and the excitement of several little people who are thrilled to see me. More celebrity than most people could handle.

So, thanks for stopping by to read this meandering nonsense. A new post after so long doesn’t mean I’m back, or maybe it does, I haven’t decided yet. And thanks for all the birthday wishes. That’s another thing I had a lot less of in my twenties, but then, we didn’t have Facebook to keep our calendars for us then either. Regardless, thanks.

J. S. Smith