After some requests to know how my 39th birthday was, I’ve decided to use this forum to respond. Let me first thank both of you for your curiosity.
First, I believe that, after a certain age, shots are no longer celebratory but strictly medicinal. The sheer effort that is required for my aging body to metabolize alcohol is staggering. I’ve been legally drinking for 18 years. That means that my drinking self has now reached adulthood and should move out and begin a life of his own. I no longer marvel at the heady feeling of inebriation, and my tolerance has reached the point where I now go from sober to sick with very little party in between. And it’s not the giddy hangover of youth where you wake up and immediately commiserate with your drinking partners like knights of Olde flushed with victory over a dragon carcass. No, I think I’m ready to start celebrating with an open robe and sandals over my socks.
But, as it turns out, 39 was also a birthday of reckoning. I didn’t realize this until today, but this was the first year that I didn’t receive a card in the mail. It occurred to me that all of the people that were obliged, based either on birth or circumstance, are now gone. This year, I became the elder, marching point with only the scraps of maps left by those who went before me.
For a moment I was struck and panicked by the silence and the untouched, pristine path ahead, but then I felt the presence of the new family at my side. Any self-pity that I had entertained was gradually replaced by reverence and optimism; reverence for the ghosts of those that I used to follow, and optimism for the rabble occupying my here and now. The voices and faces, harmonies and discords, interwoven in a complex and beautiful melange.
There are many things I would like to write to those who can no longer read them. To those of you who can, thank you for being my magic and mystery. It was a Happy Birthday, indeed.