Warning: The following post contains sentimentality.
I sit here typing on my lousy HP computer with my sinuses feeling as if they’re packed with Quikrete, lungs prickly as if they’re lined with insulation, and a face pulsating with pain like I just finished bare-knuckle brawling with the late, great Jake LaMotta and I wonder to myself, “So this is what 40 feels like?” I realize that this is not what 40 feels like. This is what it feels like when your children share their sneezed-out, coughed-up germs with you. A birthday present I will not forget.
Birthday? Yes, I turned 40 yesterday. It’s that monumental birthday everyone talks about. Black balloons, over-the-hill jokes, mid-life crisis nearing, the whole kit-n-kaboodle. Will there soon be a Corvette sitting in the driveway? Will I start combing my hair over to one side to hide that patch of invisible hair on my head? Will I buy a Bowflex, work on my abs, and start a Stone Temple Pilots cover band? I can say without a doubt ‘no’ to all of the above. I can say that all the hype behind turning 40 is just that: Hype. Besides this plague my young ones bestowed upon my respiratory system I feel exactly the same way I felt the day before I turned 40. And the day before that. But compared to a year ago, or two or three or four years ago? I do feel different. A lot different as a matter of fact. I feel a hell of a lot better than I did back then.
You see, I think I’ve been an old soul since I was a kid. I was never comfortable in my own skin. I always felt awkward. Out of sorts, really. I felt more comfortable alone in my room in my own weird world. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy a good fart joke, or that I didn’t laugh hysterically at The Three Stooges or Airplane!. It’s just that I always felt older. And when you feel like you should be middle-aged at 20 years old, well that makes you a little off-kilter. I’m now 40 years old and I feel like I’m just beginning. I feel younger now than I did 20 years ago, and I think that’s because I’m finally comfortable with who the hell I am. It’s taken me a few years to figure things out, but now that I have I think I’m a better person. I’m all the more understanding and -here’s the big one- patient. Sure, I still yell at idiot drivers. And yeah, “swearing like a sailor” is a phrase that might pertain to me(So what? What the f**k do you care??) But I think I’m a better person to be around nowadays. I’m that gushing dad that I never thought I’d be. I’m proud of my children and will let everyone know(especially those smug bastards that “don’t like kids”) how much they mean to me. I let my wife take the wheel and put us on a budget last year. Guess what? It works. The only plastic we use these days are those containers we put leftovers in. I’ve learned in the last few years of my total 40 years on this planet that you have to just let things go. You have to appreciate what you have, and say f**k it to what you don’t have. Even if you don’t have s**t, those few things you do have cherish them. Be thankful for them. I no longer feel like I’m on a tightrope without a net. You know what’s over the hill? A big open field with an endless horizon. It goes as far as your eyes allow it. As far as your heart wants it. As long as your feet will take you. I always thought I was happy. I assumed it. Now, I feel it. In my bones.
In my 40 year old bones I feel it. It’s only going to get better from here on out. My son picked out a nice, warm robe for me on my 40th birthday. If that doesn’t say “things are getting better”, I don’t know what does.
And I think I’m gonna look damn good with gray hair.