So, another year, another notch on that birthday belt (I don’t actually own a birthday belt—that’d be weird—I just like the image…I picture it having balloons and streamers and candy and other shit hanging from the buckle…)
The big 3-0. No longer in my 20’s, I guess it’s time to start acting like an adult.
Or not (pssshhh, fuck that nonsense).
On this day (which started with 60 happy birthday texts from two of my friends; love you guys), I can’t help looking back at the last 10 years of my life to take stock of where I’m at now in relation to where I wanted to be back then (because I’m the first person who’s ever done that on his 30th birthday, right? Right).
There’s not very much I remember about turning 20. It didn’t start out a very good year; I didn’t start it out a very good person (for you mathematically challenged individuals, this was back in 2004). Spent a lot of time demonstrating exactly how stupid a 20 year old can act when he has absolutely no idea what he wants to do with his life. That streak of unfettered debauchery only lasted the first half of the year though, as that summer was the summer I decided to go back to school and pursue writing as a career.
Since then, I’ve done a few things with my time:
Spent seven years getting an AA, BA, and MFA.
Published a bunch of short stories and a short story collection.
Lived in Tallahassee, Orlando, Manhattan, and last year embarked on my second stint in Miami (totally different than the first, let me tell you).
I’ve dated a lot, been single a lot, made friends, lost friends, resumed friendships with people I thought I lost.
I’ve fought, loved, cried, laughed (often maniacally), and had a grand total of 11 different jobs (six of which were in the restaurant industry).
Yet today, I woke up and all I could think about was not these past achievements and failures, but rather what my future holds.
Full disclosure: I’m not where I wanted to be when I was 20, looking forward to this new decade. Which isn’t to say I haven’t achieved anything (my expectations at that age were lofty, to put it mildly). I just remember thinking that, at 30, I’d be there.
You know where there is too, dammit. That dream life.
I thought back then that, at 30, I’d have the house, the wife, the kid(s), the dog with a backyard. I’d also have one—if not two—published novels, with enough attention from them to warrant becoming a full-time author. I’d be fully safe and sound in my life and career path, and I’d have everything figured out already, ready to approach the future with a confidence that can only be derived from security.
None of those things exist in my life right now though.
Except the only one that matters: confidence.
Through the support of friends and family, my students and colleagues, and everybody who’s read my writing and been vocal about their opinions, I’ve managed to end up exactly where I wanted to be at this age because of you, even though I haven’t checked off a single item on that list. Which is why I can honestly say I’m happier today than I can remember being on my last five birthdays.
Funny how shit works like that.
So, I’ll raise my imaginary shot glass (I have classes to teach ‘til later tonight so, yes, imaginary; don’t worry though, it’ll be a very real glass when I meet up with my friends in a few hours…no tequila) and toast to my friends, family, future, and the futures of everybody I love and have the privilege to be loved by.
I’ve got momentum now, people. And experience.
A combo like that?
Shit…I’ll just let Kanye and Jay explain it: