Sunday, December 06, 2020

Forty Years of Adulthood


Forty years ago, at this moment, I was looking forward to being magically transformed into a legal adult. That happened, of course, and certain things changed - my attitude did, certainly, for a while anyway - but besides that intangible change in legal status, I remember nothing “special” about that birthday. On my 16th birthday I got my driver's license, but beyond that, again, nothing special. The same goes for all prior birthdays except my 5th - on that day my parents gave me my first bicycle. I'm sure there was cake, too, but as far as celebrations go, I don't remember. My 10th, 13th, any others, I have no recollection. Moving forward, with just one exception, I cannot recall anything noteworthy in terms of celebrations for the yearly anniversary of my coming into this world. I remember quite a few for other decidedly non-celebratory reasons, but except for one strange, but nice “surprise party” 10 years ago, I remember the celebrations for others, many of them, but not my own.


There are a lot of possible reasons for that. I know that my 21st birthday fell during finals week while I was attending San Diego State University. Even Playboy Magazine's “#1 Party School” wasn't partying that week. It's not as though I ever passed up a chance to party, but my 21st birthday did not present such a chance; a pitcher of beer and a couple of enchiladas with a friend at the local Mexican food place was my big shin-dig. Although my birthday has never been a big deal, there have been a few that I sort of wanted to be, that I felt like they should be, but they never were. Turning "The Big 5-O," for instance, is supposed to be kind of a big deal, but as it turned out, it kind of wasn't. However, I am mostly content letting them pass quietly by - especially considering those that were not so quiet. This one - 58, or 40 years since my 18th - is only noteworthy because it has been 40 years since the privileges (most of them) and the responsibilities of adulthood have been thrust, or bestowed, upon me.


What am I going to do? Nothing special. Nothing different than most any other Sunday at the end of most any other fall semester. I'll answer a few phone calls and texts from friends and family wishing me well and I'll "like" a shitload more from Facebook friends (not judging - I do it, too), when I get to them - maybe I'll take my Harley for a little ride to get some wind therapy (and I have a nice cigar I've been saving, too), but the reality is that it's just another day. It's been coming for a while and until a couple of days ago I haven't really given it much thought. I don't need or want a “birthday month,” and, to be perfectly honest, I feel a little disingenuous even writing this - drawing attention to what I say I don't really care about. Some will say, “You must care a little or...” And they are right, to an extent - there is some truth in that. But I also process shit this way - I write about it - and those who really know me know that.


I have a lot of friends who have passed this mark and I have a lot who are still years away, but none of that helps me understand what 58 is supposed to feel like. I know how I feel physically and, considering what I've put my body through, I cannot (and do not) complain. But the very idea that I turned 18 years-old 40 fucking years ago is hard to wrap my head around. There is a lot to be said for experience - far more than my 18 year-old self would ever grant. I use that experience And when I can, I try to share it. I remember stuff first-hand that my students learned about in K-12 history classes. And although my earliest memories, sketchy as they are, predate that 5th birthday, I distinctly remember that day 53 years ago when I got a brand new red Sears bicycle for my birthday. That birthday is still the best one.



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