Today I turn 48 years old. Two years away from 50. Getting older has never really bothered me. I’ve always felt like an old person in a young person’s body anyways. Not in a Freaky Friday, Vice Versa, Like Father Like Son sort of way, but more in the Benjamin Buttons sort of way. But instead of looking old when I was 5 I just felt old inside at 5 and stayed that way until I actually physically got to being old. An existential Benjamin Buttons, if you will. My aura finally caught up with my failing joints and frayed psyche.
I’m still on the side of I don’t mind getting older, but I can’t say I enjoy the aches and pains. I know, seems kind of pathetic to be complaining about aches and pains at 48. Don’t you do that at 60? But working on my feet for most of my life, and having a good portion of that being on concrete floors doesn’t help. Factor in years of mindless acts of lifting way too heavy objects with my back and not my knees and you’ve got a recipe for back and joint issues into your golden years, champ.
That doesn’t even cover the psychological effects of growing up a busy body with a mind for worrying. Anxiety, dread, and the occasional panic has made its way to me over the years. So on top of my back and shoulders being on fire several times a week, you can put my brain on that pyre as well.
This year, even more so than last year, has seemed to have been one anxiety attack after another. March my wife fell at work and gave herself a concussion that lasted seemingly two months. A drive out to NYC to pick up our oldest from her Manhatten work study was fraught with information overload(I’m not big city folk), my wife falling again and hitting her head outside Katz’ Deli, our 18-year old getting in a car wreck while we were galavanting in the Big Apple, and ended with the van battery getting drained on a NYC street outside our daughter’s apartment while we loaded her stuff up.
July saw my wife heading down to the Carolinas with our oldest and three of her friends for vacation. Four hours into the drive she lost the use of her brakes due to the brake line in the back rubbing against the tire thanks to a grease monkey not doing his job when he replaced the pads, rotors, and calipers two weeks before. This then led into a sweep of car repairs which included failing spark plugs, EGR valves, alternators, and tires which ran well over $3,500.
Of course the cherry on the sundae was finding out in October that they were closing our plant and I’d be out of a job in 2-3 years time.
I look at that photo of the 6 1/2 month old me, all smiles and possibly loaded diaper, and I think “Little man, you have no idea what’s in store for you.” The world is a kaleidoscope of left turns, plot twists, dead ends, tragedies, and disappointments. It’s also full of amazing moments, wins, love, hard won lessons, and relationships you take with you your whole life. At 6 1/2 months old your brain is clean. No anvil-heavy disappointments have dropped from the sky to crush your spirits just yet. The world is your oyster, so to speak. I want to feed that kid a bottle, rock him to sleep, and tell him it’ll all work out. Give him that extra boost that he’ll hopefully take with him so when he turns 48 that seed of encouragement has long since rooted and given him some existential peace.
Doesn’t work that way, but I wish it did.
But hey, I’m still here. Despite the setbacks and injuries and close calls everyone is still here. We made it through. I think it’s interesting to think that a year ago I was still getting over Covid after having been down for three weeks(most of November) and I kind of look back on that with great nostalgia. Being sick and forced to be home with the family doing nothing but watching TV, listening to music, and painting when I had the energy feels like a nice time. At least in comparison to being back out in the crazy world. My 47th year on this rock was a weird and frantic one.
I’m hoping 48 will be a little better. Gonna head out with my wife in a little bit and hit up a brewery up north for lunch. I actually took my birthday off this year, as well as tomorrow. A couple mental health days were in order. Haven’t taken my birthday off from work in a very long time, and with the way things are these days I feel you got to take advantage of these little moments whenever you can.
So I bid you all a fond adieu. I’ll have a pint in your honor, and mine.