It’s been a whole week since I’ve posted. Not much going on.. not much to say. There has been something on my mind, though … another birthday coming in less than three weeks! I have mixed emotions about that.
I’m gonna have a birthday! *Yay!* 😀 Bakery made cake! Thick frosting! *Yum! Yum!*
I’m gonna have a birthday! *Sigh.* 😦 *Lone tear sliding down my left cheek.* See the title of this blog……. ’nuff said!
For several days I’ve been reliving some of my significant birthdays.
16th – The birthday that had a very important and long lasting effect on my life. It was the first day that I could legally buy cigarettes! I vividly recall walking to the drug store and buying a pack of Pall Malls. On that day I lit up my first cigarette and inhaled for the first time. How I wish I had heeded the message that my lungs told me at that moment. Instead, it was to be 34 years and 18 days until I put an end to that disgusting, unhealthy and expensive habit!
21st – A BIG day! – The day I became a legal adult but I remember that I sure didn’t feel like one. It was the first day that the significance of what was soon to come really hit home, together with the knowledge that I was totally unprepared for it. I was a Senior in college – in just five months I would be graduating and heading out into the cold cruel adult world. I was terrified. I had no idea what I wanted to do. I couldn’t envision myself as an adult with adult responsibilities. I knew I was still just a kid, and I was certain that potential employers would see the me that I saw. I’d had 17 years of being a student. I didn’t know anything else. I recall how I felt that day as clearly as if it were yesterday. A big day, for sure . . . a big downer day! 😥
30th – I have absolutely no recollection of that day. I only mention it because the 30th birthday for most people is quite traumatic. Actually, I don’t recall any of the birthdays from my mid-twenties through the 30’s as being meaningful in any way.
40th – I have to chuckle whenever I think of that particular birthday, because of the irrational thought that entered my little mind that very day. You see, the decade of the 40’s is considered the “dangerous age” for men. It is the period where sudden death by heart attack, although a rare occurrence, is more likely for men than in any other decade. Honest to God – On that very day I became convinced that I was going to be one of those rare unfortunate souls, and that it was going to happen soon! 😯 I knew it was crazy, but I just couldn’t chase it from my mind.
At the time I was in great physical shape, playing basketball at the YMCA often on weeknights, and outdoors on the weekends whenever there was no snow on the court and the temperature was in the high 30’s or above (About 4°C and above). No matter the temperature I would wear just gym shorts and a sweat shirt.
Early in the afternoon on the Saturday after my birthday I went out my front door, basketball held by my right hand against my hip, turned left and walked up the street past three houses and turned onto a narrow path through a small woods leading into a park with two basketball courts – all the while a fierce battle going on in my brain.
One of me, the crazy one, was screaming: “Turn around! Go back home or you’re going to die today! A basketball game is not worth it!” But, the rational me was insisting that that was nuts. If I was going to suddenly keel over dead it could just as easily happen while I was sitting at my desk – it wasn’t even likely, but if it was going to happen I would have no control over it anyway.
I actually stopped a few times and considered turning around, but then would continue on. Once I started playing I totally forgot my fears and concentrated on the game.
I fought the same internal battle every time I headed out to play for a couple more weeks, but then the thought completely left my mind, never to return.
50th – A very depressing day! I woke up that morning with the realization that I was suddenly no longer a young man. What a difference a day makes! What a difference a mere number makes! I tried to convince myself that I was only one day older than the day before – but it didn’t work. I went into a full scale depression that lasted the entire day.
I made it a point not to mention the horrible fact at work that day, and was even able to maintain my usual impersonation of a pleasant , competent and mature adult, a skill that I had mastered over the years to mask the frightened 13 year old that dwelt between my ears. A skill that I’m quite proud of, thank you very much! 😉
Around three o’clock in the afternoon my boss buzzed me and asked me to come to his office to discuss some project. Dumb me, totally unawares, walks into his office where I am confronted by the entire office gang shouting: “Happy Birthday!”, cards and wrapped gifts on the coffee table and a huge rectangular cake with the message: “Happy 50th Birthday Ed”. Believe me, it took all my acting skill to smile and fake enjoying the very nice and thoughtful ceremony – a performance that would have made even Lawrence Olivier proud!.
Somehow I made it through that entire day – and life went on.
There hasn’t been a birthday since that was particularly significant to me. I can’t say they are happy occasions, but basically I tell myself: “Hey, you’ve made it through another year. You still feel pretty good and seem to be in good health – so just maybe you’ll make it through another one.”
I’m not always totally convinced, but quite often I think that it could be that I have finally grown up! 😕