“There’s not really anything I want for my birthday this year. Nothing I can buy with money, anyway. I have had everything I wanted in my life, even if I don’t have all of it anymore, or want all of it anymore, and even if I would like some more of what I already had (there’s probably a new Timbuk2 messenger coming sooner rather than later, and will probably get a bunch of custom work done to boot). For today and tonight, though, I’m content with another cup of coffee, dinner with friends, and turning in early to snuggle with my sweetie. Tomorrow will take care of itself. You play the days like you play the games: one at a time.”
-28 Feb 2011
It’s taken seven years, but I have finally gotten back where I was, I think. The world as a whole is worse than it was in 2011, by leaps and bounds. Friends have moved away – some over the hill, some to the other side of the world – and loved ones are in far poorer health than before. I’m on the wrong end of my 40s now, and the social media outlets that used to serve me in place of a local gang of my own have turned into the worst sort of toxic cesspool.
“When you go by Stagger Lee, you rather expect 44 and 45 to be good years. It’s right there in the songs, after all. 44 is that hard eight on the craps table that made money at my bachelor party. 44 is Riggo plowing through a 50 Gut pulling-guard block in the days when football was fun, rather than a boundless misery. 44 sounds and feels like somebody set with adulthood and nothing much left to prove, which is what I’ve been trying to prove for over twenty years now without success. And yet, I’ve always skewed older than I really was. Maybe I’m finally hitting equilibrium. It would be nice.
So we set forth on the goals: don’t give up on fixing the health issues. If it means having to liposuction the inside of my nose to breathe at night, do it. If it means the monthlong moratorium on hard liquor has to be extended, I’ll live with it. If it means that cutting out carbs and soda and eating salad for lunch every day and going to see all manner of exotic specialists will actually produce results, then I’ll have the results. And I’ll plug in the headphones of a Sunday evening, with a reading lamp and a Kindle with the wireless turned off, and listen to music and sip something out of a fresh jug of oatmeal stout and do the pub thing at home where it’s inexpensive and easy to get up the stairs.”
-28 Feb 2016
I did liposuction the nose. A month off hard liquor turned into two years of eschewing cocktails in favor of craft beer, the lower-alcohol the better. I haven’t purchased a single Coke Zero in 2018. And not only did I spend a week in London, but I finally spent a fortnight in Ireland. And my job has evolved into something that’s paying me more money for less work, something I can do remotely and take training and go on conferences and have a title and salary commensurate with what I actually do instead of being the human equivalent of an overloaded-Indian-subcontinent-train, paid and titled like a tier-2 help desk operator.
I did age into where I wanted to be. I have old outerwear I’ve had for a couple of decades. I have twenty years in the IT business. I have a resume with a certain amount of “Most Interesting Man In The World” to it, between Vanderbilt and Apple and National Geographic. I’ve been cuddling the same girl for seventeen years and change. I have a comfortable car that gets over 40 mpg and lets me cruise around this beautiful state that I get to live in, even when the local counties get annoying as hell.
I guess I’m good, really. There aren’t things I want – anything that piques my interest for under $20 I’m probably just going to buy, whether it’s a pen or a Nerf gun or a bomber of milk stout – and if you gave me actual wishes for my birthday, I’d probably spend them all on family health and regime change (unless I could sneak an iPhone X-Minus in there at the end, of which etc). I mean, there are absolutely things I wish had gone differently in the past, but wishing for a better past is pretty much the textbook definition of insanity and I’ve finally gotten better at avoiding it. Just to have pleasant weather, snuggled sleep-ins, road trips, baseball, pints, the chance to wear comfortable footwear without socks…
That would be enough, wouldn’t it?