Today is my birthday. I turned 35 years old. A few quick thoughts, then, as I inch ever closer to 40…
Birthdays are something of a confusing time for me. For one thing, I don’t normally do much in the way of celebration. I might have something special to eat, but you won’t see me having a party or out at the bar with a group of friends. I’m a homebody, and a quiet dinner on the couch is about as crazy as things get for me.
My birthday can also cause me to go through a period of self-reflection, where I start taking stock of my life. That’s usually a bad sign, because when it comes to matching up accomplishments or possessions with other people, even my friends, I usually come out way behind.
At 35 years old, I am not married, nor do I have any children. If you want to know the truth, I’ve never been close to either. I’ve never had the kind of long-term relationship those things generally require. I’d like to say that I am unlucky when it comes to love, but honestly it’s more that I just suck at it. When your best friends are all hitched, and have a couple of kids apiece, it’s easy to feel like you are dragging behind.
I do have a steady job, but it’s a shitty job. I’ve been there 6 years, which isn’t a long time, I guess. But I do hate it most days I’m there. The easy answer, of course, is to quit and find employment elsewhere. I’m more afraid of where I’d end up if I left. In that way, I’ve sacrificed a bit for some measure of security. I shouldn’t complain, though. In this economy, I’m lucky to be working at all.
There are other things as well that I’m not really happy with. My housing situation isn’t exactly optimal, I don’t have a car, and looking at my bank account and credit card statements can be pretty scary. I spend a bit of each day going over figures in my head involving expected income and expenses, making sure I come out ahead. That can be a little stressful. I know if anything goes seriously wrong, I’m screwed.
Now, maybe it is easy to look over what I’ve written and feel depressed about it. Sometimes I do. It can be hard going years feeling like you are just barely keeping your head above water. Today is different, though. I’m not going to let it get the best of me. Instead, I’m going to focus on what I do have. To do that, let me talk about how my birthday has been so far.
I stayed up late last night and woke up at 2 today. That’s 2 in the afternoon, mind you. I don’t care what anyone says. That is awesome.
I checked my phone and saw I had a bunch of texts and messages from my friends. In this day and age of social networking, it can be easy to forget how many positive relationships you forge with people across the country and around the world. Some of them I’ve never met, but I feel close to just the same. Others I have met, and I know they are friends for life.
Then I took a look at Facebook and saw more of the same. Wonderful birthday greetings, jokes, and kind words from all kinds of people. Some of those people I didn’t even know I was connected to. It doesn’t matter, it was terrific, and way more than I ever expected. I’d like to believe many of them have enjoyed my posts over the years, and that I’ve made them smile here or there. No matter the reason, I appreciated each one.
A bit later I went out for lunch with my mom and dad to a local Chinese restaurant and had some delicious almond boneless chicken and hot tea. It was wonderful. My parents and I talked, we laughed, and just enjoyed being together. It was a nice time, and I’m glad we went.
Afterward, they gave me a cookie cake that they had the store decorate. It is kind of a custom. For my 30th birthday, my cake had Larry David’s face on it. Two years ago, they had a friend photoshop my face onto the body of “Breaking Bad” character Walter White. The cake was an image of me among barrels and stacks of money. This year, however, I opened the lid and saw “Happy Birthday Jason” with Jason Voorhees of Friday the 13th fame holding up his machete. It made me laugh. A little later, I ate his head. It was delicious.
It is after 9pm now and I’m sitting against the wall of my bedroom. At the same time, I’m thinking how, yes, it’s true that if I measure my life in a series of arbitrary ways, it can certainly look like it sucks. Hey, maybe it does. But you know what? I have a lot of things a lot of other people don’t have. I have two parents who love me, a lot of friends who think I’m great, I’ve got a roof over my head and, if luck should have it, access to the internet so I can post this blog.
Is my life perfect? No. But I’d say I’ve got it pretty good. Today has been a great day.