Well. It’s birthday time again. I’m usually fairly surprised when that happens, because it often feels like, hey, didn’t I just do this? But the truth is, 32 felt like it was a year long. So, no surprises here. It’s time for 33. I always used to say that I was surprised by my age (a theme emerges), because most of the time, I still felt 12. Well, I don’t feel 12 anymore. I feel like, you know, I’m in my 30s now. I’m okay with that, at least in part because I realize how completely counter-productive it would be to feel otherwise, but also because I’ve earned it. My hair is a little more gray, and my skin is a little more… elderly and cantankerous. But I still get carded in bars when I go out with my friends, so I guess that counts for something.
(And here we have the annual birthday self-portrait, which perhaps someday will turn into part of an interesting series of how my face changes over the years, or perhaps just a record of how I often appear smirky. This time around, I had fallen asleep, then woke up and remembered that I do this thing in the earliest moments of my birthday — I can’t remember why I put that restriction on it, but I guess I have to stick with it now — and we’re all lucky that I was able to come up with something other than I-just-woke-up grumpface.)
By the time my birthday came around a year ago, I was still kinda sad over a breakup that was painful, not just because it was a breakup, but because it didn’t make too much sense and there never was any type of closure. (I don’t know why I’m mentioning this, but if you ever want to torture me, give me a riddle. I’ll drive myself nuts trying to find an answer, and I have a really hard time letting go of things I can’t put in order. It’s one of my more endearing qualities, to be sure.) I’d been sad for so long that I’d made peace with it, the sadness, just sort of shrugged my shoulders and resigned myself to feeling soft and bruised.
But that gets really boring. And I think after awhile it’s nothing more than ridiculously self-indulgent, and you know? If I’m going to be self-indulgent, I’d rather do it by putting my feet up and eating ice cream (while perhaps looking at photos of David Beckham and his tattoos) than by sitting around being a tiring mope. So, I stopped, anyway. Because the truth is that you really do get to choose how you feel about things, so, oh well, bygones, and pass the Ben & Jerry’s.
(I haven’t eaten a lot of ice cream this year, which is certainly a failing on my part, but I have seen a lot of photos of David Beckham and his tattoos because I’ve spent several accumulated hours on Pinterest.)
It’s not that I’ve been so terribly revolutionary or anything this year, but I’ve made a habit out of doing stuff if I wanted to do it. It’s a small thing, really, and for the most part, it’s not that any of the stuff I’ve done because I’ve wanted to do it has been particularly life-altering or anything. But the thing is that I sometimes think about things instead of doing them, waiting on stuff until I feel prepared. Until next month, when this. Or until I have a little more money in the bank. Or until I lose five pounds. Or or or. And that’s terribly stupid, because circumstances are never perfect for anything, and once you get past one thing, there’s something else in its place. There’s always a reason not to do something, if you think about it long enough. I think perhaps the trick is to stop thinking so damn much.
It’s a kind of funny quirk of human nature that we know and accept that bad things will happen whether or not we’re ready for them, and yet we think we have to be prepared for the good things, so we put them off until this, that or the other.
So, the year in review. What happened while I was 32? Well, there’s the house, which is mine and I don’t have to worry about having to live in my car. I stole some obliging traffic cones. I saw Ryan Adams play live (through a woman’s unfortunately large hair, true). I stuck my face right up next to Whistler’s painting Nocturne in Black and Gold: The Falling Rocket (and didn’t get yelled at!) and fell in love with blue and orange blobs of paint. I saw The Black Keys. I made a jewelry display out of an antique letterpress tray, even though I didn’t really have any idea how to make a jewelry display out of an antique letterpress tray (and the report is that I use it daily and I put all my jewelry away now, which is some kind of miracle in itself). I bought a bike. I donated my hair to charity. I saw Radiohead. (!!!) I got a tattoo. I read some books. I finished writing the end of a manuscript I’ve been picking away at for more than a year now, and I just reread it over the weekend and thought, you know, that’s pretty damn good (now I just need to write the middle… oh, those pesky middles). If I keep picking away in fits and starts like I do, then I could even be done with it in another year. I grew tomatoes. I made mint julep cupcakes. I went for walks, I went for runs. I did a live performance and remembered how much I miss and love acting. (And I didn’t even know at the time, but it was kind of an audition of sorts, because there was a director in the audience who wants me to be in a play he’s putting up next year — woo! Shakespeare!) I’ve laughed a lot, I’ve cried some, I’ve fought a little bit. I’ve held babies. I’ve had adventures in snowstorms (more than once, even), and I’ve eaten pancakes really really late at night. I went to a casino for the first time (yes, it took me until I was over 30 to go to a casino, because I was never really interested, and now that I’ve gone to one, it turns out that I’m still not interested, but at least I know for sure). I’ve been there for my friends, who have had some really shitty stuff happen this year, and I’ve been there for my friends, who have had some really great stuff happen this year. Oh, and I’ve worked. A lot. Really fucking hard. I saw some plays, I saw some movies, and probably over the course of this year, I’ve eaten my weight in Greek yogurt.
And, you know, some other stuff, some of which I’ve forgotten, and some of which I think I’ll keep to myself, because I have to save a few things for my memoirs.
You know what it is? This year, I lived. It was good, even when it wasn’t. I think I’ll do more of it.