Will Call: Birthday blues
I don’t know at what age birthdays shift from being a cause of celebration to being a reminder of the inexorable march of time, but it might be 26.
Like most people, I put a lot of store in birthdays as a kid. It’s basically a holiday all about you, particularly if you’re lucky enough to be born in the summer. True, I never got to bring cupcakes for school, but I had my pick of activities and could always have an outdoor slumber party if I wanted one.
I also remember being tremendously excited the first time I met someone else born on July 9, which remains a comparative rarity. I am also fairly good at remembering birthdays, a skill which has become far less useful in the Facebook era. I generally hide mine a few days in advance to avoid the strange public ritual of posting on someone’s wall instead of reaching out privately and directly.
Really, I didn’t do a lot on the day of my birth. I didn’t even chose the date, as I was scheduled for a cesarean later that day. Being a bit of a rebel without a cause, I subjected my mother to a few hours of labor before the team at Valley View Hospital cut me out.
If anything, we should be celebrating our mothers on our birthdays. They had a much harder time of it than we did.
I’ll acknowledge that there’s something fun about ticking off the years, particularly those with a particular significance. I remember enjoying turning 9 on the 9th in 1999. The next year, I celebrated double digits. At 13, I could go to PG-13 movies. At 16, I could drive (though I didn’t), and at 18 I could smoke (though I didn’t) and vote (which I did). The last big milestone for most people is 21, but I continued to manufacture them for a while. At 24, you use a whole pack of birthday candles without any leftovers. At 25, it’s much easier to rent a car (though, again, I haven’t). It’s probably a good time to cut off that line of reasoning with 27 waiting in the wings.
Perhaps the real accomplishment we’re celebrating is surviving another year.
I’m often told that 20 somethings think they’re immortal. I sure don’t feel that way. I’ve lost enough family and friends to remind me how limited our time is, even without two years on the crime and accident beat. My youth just makes me more conscious of what I have to lose.
Statistically, I’ve got around 52 years left to figure out who I am and what I want and maybe leave some semblance of a legacy. I don’t know if there’s such a thing as a third life crisis, but I suspect most of us spend our entire adult lives wondering if we’re on the right path.
Since I’m really only getting one day older on Saturday, I’ll try not to sweat it. It’s dry enough for camping and wet enough for a fire. What more could I ask for?
With any luck, I’ll have plenty more birthdays to ponder my own mortality.
Will Grandbois is practicing to be a crotchety old man. He can be reached at 384-9105 or email@example.com.
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