It’s about 11:30 p.m. the night of my birthday. Birthdays are often a time of reflection, ruminating on the year and years before, wondering what is to come. This is one of those birthdays, and this is one of those times.
I am now 32 years old. If you had asked me 10 years, 20 years ago where I would be at this point, the one thing they would both say would be that they envisioned present me as a happy, accomplished adult. The definitions of that success would differ, of course, as time and maturity bring about wisdom in most: 22-year-old me would see that happiness in the form of a fulfilling job, loving wife and kids, and a house to shelter the brood; 12-year-old me would find it bitchin’ to have a wife and kids, and to stay up late nights and play as many video games as I wanted.
Tonight is one of those late nights, but I am not playing video games. My wife and children are nonexistent. And these latter familial bonds are what have me pondering my past and present, and sighing at the future. I told a recent acquaintance on Saturday that I knew that I wanted to be married as early as 10 years old. Enamored with my latest crush, I drafted a wedding invitation to our eventual wedding in pencil and gave it to my mom. I thought I was predicting the future.
12-year-old me was a tad more cynical (the crush faded away like many others) but thought that someone would come along to make that announcement true, perhaps in the form of a sweet, sassy Southern gal from Texas. Flowers and my undying devotion: the charms of a head-over-heels romantic was not as powerful as the lure of a next-door neighbor a few dozen feet away. The invitation was most likely in my mother’s hope chest at that point.
22-year-old me was even more cynical, smarting from the rejection from the first real love he felt. He had fooled himself once, and yet the second time hurt so much more. Still, he hoped to find that one woman that would be the one, never mind that he denied this as he grieved.
I remember these heartaches and the ones to come. After that broken heart came the second, the real love that he wanted, a long-distance affair. He wanted to bridge that physical gap as well as the emotional. Perhaps the stings of love’s loss made it that much harder to let the pieces fall into place, or maybe it was wanted too bad. This love lingers in my mind often, particularly as of late, as reassessing one’s life tends to conjure up the past when one is not emotionally sated.
These two loves also share commonalities: both are brunettes; short hair; married within the same year; and both giving birth to children a year later. Joy and grief come from blessings and loss; in this case, the fruitful yield of life stings hurts that much more. Cute kids, they are. I wish they were mine.
I’m not sure what comes next for me; hell, I’m taking it one day at a time like the drunks do. But birthdays are the road sign of another year past, and maybe the next few signs will be filled with those accomplishments I seek. Perhaps such late nights will feature less writing, less reflection, and more living in the present, dealing with frets and chores and dirty diapers, groggy feedings and goals of sleep. Weird things to wish for, especially for a birthday, but the activity and love filling that house will pair well with the video games.