27 June 2010

Reflections on my twenty-seventh year

It's about time I banged this out, as I have been pacing around the garden with a cup of coffee feeling sorry for myself for the last hour or so. Tomorrow, I will turn 28. Not anything to write home about particularly because I don't feel 28 — I have felt like I was 56 since I was about 14. When I actually turn 56, I will think back on all the years I had wasted trying to get to 56, and probably feel melancholy about it, but hey, that is, perhaps, just how I roll. Birthdays, particularly since I have been married, have been pretty lackluster. Last year was a low point, but I suspect this year might give it a run for its money, as, for my wife, birthdays are not much of anything but a day to eat a bit of cake and get on with life. I don't begrudge her this; we did, of course, grow up in very different cultures and households, but if you'll recall from this January when we had the five days of Yoko's birthday, I feel a bit differently about the birthday as a celebration of someone.

I inherit this importance of birthdays from my father who, as I think about it, always took the day off on our birthdays and we always went out to breakfast, just the two of us. I remember racing go karts and playing miniature golf: all these sorts of things. It's funny, as my relationship with my father has improved in the last couple of years, so have my memories of these times. I remember being happy and carefree. I remember my dad getting me a Twins spring training baseball cap (the white one) — just buying it off the rack like it was something at the supermarket because it was my birthday.

Tomorrow will likely not have any moments like that, except that at the end of it, I will get on a London Midlands train to Euston and then walk from Euston up to Camden, where there is a hotel reservation in my name, made by a conference that is paying for me to stay in London for two nights. In return, I will tell them about YokeUp and YouTube Christians. This is, of course, my dream come true in more than one way, so the frustration of another mediocre birthday will be mitigated.

So my twenty-seventh year included new glasses; gaining another Master's and finishing my first year of my PhD; a move to a much bigger house; two trips to France, one to the US, and one to Scotland; lots of reading and writing; a publication and a revise and resubmit at a journal I quite respect; lots of running and biking; teaching in an MA programme for the first time; and some French study. More importantly, and less tangibly, is a sense of stability and confidence that has been lacking for the last five years or so. This comes from me making peace with the empty, god-shaped hole left in my heart by religion and accepting that there is so much that I don't know. I also made peace with myself watching members of my old band play a show on a bitterly cold night in Chicago in January, which is really what this post is all about.

My goals for 28? Reading and writing. Come to think of it, that's my goal for the rest of my life. There is so much I don't know.