Today I turn 35. It’s no big deal, really—after all, I’m only a day older than I was yesterday. But I suppose there is something particularly ominous about 35. Or at least I feel as if there should be. I am at the midway point between two decades, halfway between the age at which I was apparently supposed to sit around in coffee shops and talk about inane things with my friends, all the while secretly worrying about what life had in store for me, and the age at which I will find myself cruising down a coastal highway on a Harley-Davidson, my shirt unbuttoned and my five or six chest hairs flowing in the wind.
I always find myself feeling slightly bewildered on my birthday. It feels odd that people who know should make such a big deal of it, and as equally odd that people who don’t know should make no deal of it at all. I tell myself that, with another year under my belt, I should have something important to say—that I should have accrued at least a little bit of the wisdom that supposedly comes with age. But I don’t feel any wiser than I did yesterday (which, for those keeping score at home, wasn’t all that wise).
In about an hour, Hyunjin’s parents, sister, and her sister’s husband will be coming over for dinner. Ostensibly, my birthday is the occasion for the gathering, but I think it was about time we had everyone over anyway, and today just so happened to be the only day available. Nonetheless, I imagine there will be cake, which we will both have and eat. At some point, a song for which we have not secured the copyright will be sung illegally, and we will celebrate our criminal depravity with a hearty round of applause. Later, everyone will go home, and it will be over. Mostly.
I suppose I should come clean: I haven’t really been all that excited about birthdays since we stopped playing Pin the Tail on the Donkey. The idea of attaching such overwhelming significance to a single day befuddles me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for celebrating life’s little moments, but trying to hoist the weight of an entire year onto a single day seems excessive.
So, to tell the truth, I’d just kind of like to get this over with and get on with life. I realize that this makes me sound a little bitter and depressed, and maybe I am, but I don’t think it has to do with the fact that today is my birthday. Far more important is the fact that I just recently (i.e., earlier today) finished with the last (more or less) of a load of work that has been keeping me insanely busy for the past few weeks. It just so happens that I finished on my birthday, which I guess is sort of a present to myself, but now I have to deal with the emotional let-down that comes after I finish a big chunk of work.
The whole getting older thing doesn’t really bother me, to be honest. It’s interesting how my concept of “old” changes as I get older. When I was young, I used to think that forty was old, probably because this was the first major birthday my father suffered when I was finally of the age to tease him about getting older. Forty years old! That’s ancient! Now, of course, it doesn’t seem quite so ancient after all. And now my father is over sixty and speeding around suburban New York on his new Kawasaki motorcycle. I’m not sure what to make of that, except to assume that 60 is apparently not the end of life as we know it.
Eh, now I’m rambling, which is a good sign that I’ve run out of things to say (or at least the desire to say them). The guests will be arriving in a little while, so I suppose I should get ready. Just a quick note to those of you who have been waiting for me to do something (be it respond to an email, write a story, whatever): I do intend to do it. Hopefully my schedule will start returning to normal and I’ll get to all those things that piled up during the crazy stretch.