Let’s get something straight, 40 is not the new 30, life doesn’t begin now, and being one step closer to a reduced rate movie ticket is not cause for general celebration. Guess, what? I just turned 40. Lest ye be surprised, this post is not all doom and gloom. For years and years I have bemoaned my birthdays. When I first met Red, I was 25 going on 12, and thoroughly griped about my 26th birthday because “it was the back half of my 20’s… the beginning of the end… “ I saw my 30th birthday as something akin to contracting leprosy. A few weeks out from each passing milestone I’d start getting grumpy (more than usual), somber, and sometimes even morose.
I like birthday parties because I like parties. I’d often drink too much at my own. Here we are at the big 4-0, and go figure… no somber. No morose. No wistful melancholy pining for the days of youth. Nope. You know what? I spent a lot of my youth being unhappy. I spent a lot of time being unhealthy, both with food and drink… mistaking indulgence with whiskey for some kind of esoteric Irish angst to feel kinship with the likes of Yates. You know what that will get you? Heartburn.
But not this year, no. The truth is that I struggle with anxiety. Unless you really knew me, you probably wouldn’t be aware that I’ve had challenges with alcohol and depression. A quick anecdote on the topic – in the fall of my junior year of college I broke up with my first long term girlfriend…. I did not deal well. There was a lot of whiskey, and loud music in my dorm room while sitting in the dark. For some reason I’d get stuck on a song or two and play them over and over while sipping Bushmills. My poor housemates (I lived in a co-ed fraternity at Columbia) endured literally hours of Mark Cohn’s awful “Walking in Memphis” on repeat while I felt sorry for myself. Don’t ask, I have no idea why that song struck a cord with me at the time. It’s poppy, and kind of sad… and pretty awful after the 5th listen in a row… All I know is that it drove my fellow fratmates mad. One day two of them (Byron and Henry if you’re curious) snuck into my room and hurled the offending CD out the window. It got stuck on a tree. There was much rejoicing from my neighbors. So I have a penchant for overdramatic melancholy.
That would make turning 40 ripe for self-indulgent masochism right? No. What’s happened? Did I grow up? I don’t think so, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. First Red happened. Then after years of Red, therapy, and hard work, Little Miss happened. Then along came Little Miss Junior. I don’t drink very much anymore. I still love whiskey, but 1 glass usually cuts it. I work more now and sleep less probably than any time in my life. I’m usually tired. I’m often smelly (see Post on being tired and smelly), and more things ache than ever before. As a cruel joke I’ve developed bursitis in my hip. This makes the ‘old man’ hip replacement jokes more salient than ever.
Despite these ailments and the encroaching father time, I’m probably happier now than ever before in my life. I have 3 beautiful women in my world. Perhaps LMJ’s illness really brought the important things into focus. Perhaps I don’t have time for self-indulgent angst anymore… there’s certainly dishes to do, diapers to change, and little girls to help raise. Perhaps I am growing up. I don’t think I ever thanked Byron and Henry for hurling that CD into the wind. Thank you guys, you were on to something, it just took me a couple decades to get there. I think it’s ok to be happy. Who knew?