Thursday, January 11, 2007


With my 26th Birthday rapidly approaching, I’ve found myself doing a lot of thinking.

This birthday I will be officially closer to being 30 than to being 20. Yes, I know that technically as soon as I was 25 and one second old I was closer to 30 than I was to 20, but that extra year has a certain “realness” about it that you can’t ignore.

I’m very close to 30. When I hit 30… 40 is just around the corner.

I remember being 19 years old, and going to work on a fellow co-worker’s 40th birthday. Talking about my own upcoming birthday (our birthdays where just a few days apart), he said:

“Siiiiigh, I remember turning twenty. Seems like it was only yesterday. Enjoy it while you can, because it goes sooner than you think.”

Of course, being 19 at the time I laughed at this idea. 40 was just over the same amount of time away as the total amount of time I’d actually been alive.

Yeah, whatever, granddad! Like most 19 year olds, at the time I thought aging was something that only happened to other people. I was going to be 19 forever.

It seems odd that now, just over 6 years later, I’m starting to believe him.

Now it’s not that I’m afraid of getting old. I’ve never been a particularly proud person, or overly concerned about my appearance. Wrinkles? Who cares? Graying, balding? I’ll shave my head…I do that anyway!

The only thing about growing old that actually scares me a little is the chance of losing my marbles. But I take comfort in the fact that if I start to go nuts, I won’t be aware of it anyway.

I can also honestly say that I’m not afraid of death. Don’t get me wrong, I’m afraid of actually dying, meaning the process I’ll go through in that space of time where I transition from being alive to being dead, but death doesn’t scare me in the least.

Why? Well, basically I’m an atheist. I don’t believe in any form of afterlife, so in that sense I already know exactly what death is like. It’s just like it was before I was born…and considering I spent from the big bang to 1981 in that state, it obviously wasn’t too hard.

I see death as a nice long sleep, only the alarm never goes off and you never have to get up on a freezing cold morning and head off in the rain to a job you hate. That doesn’t sound so bad at all.

No. What I’ve been thinking a lot about is the fact that I’m now officially a “grown up”.

I mean, seriously. How the hell did that happen? Was I asleep during that meeting? Did someone forget to mail me the memo? I sure as hell know I missed out on all the required training.

Suddenly I’m a grown up, except no one bothered to tell me. It’s like spending the day at work, then looking down to find that not only is your zipper open, but your wedding tackle is out there, swinging in the breeze. Then, when you ask your co-workers why they didn’t tell you this was happening, they shrug and say: “Oh, we thought you knew.”

I remember being a kid and looking at my parents. My Dad was a God. He knew everything, always knew what to do and nothing, nothing ever phased him. In my eyes, if aliens invaded and started enslaving the human race, he wouldn’t even break a sweat. He’d just know exactly what to do. My Mum? Well, I’d have just pitied the alien who tried to enslave her, especially if they’d tracked mud across the living room carpet.

Recently I’ve realized just how lucky I was in who my parents are. I’ve said it a million times over, but “parent” is a job description, not a title you get handed when someone comes along who shares half your genes. You’re not a Father when you fertilize an egg, and you’re not a Mother when you squeeze out a baby. My Parents were (and still are) actual Parents, with a capital P.

Like most kids, I believed that my parents where born parents. They had special training and knew exactly what to do at all times. I just had to sit back and enjoy the ride, because if anything bad ever happened, my parents would swing into action, and with the skill and grace of people who’ve dealt with much worse a million times before, they’d do secret ‘grown-up’ things and make it all go away.

Well, now I’m almost at the same age my parents where when they became parents…and I have to wonder if they where as lost, confused and as clueless as I am.

I always get the feeling that inside I’m still about 14 or 15 years old.

I think in some ways I stopped aging on my 14th birthday. I mean, obviously I’ve gotten a little more intelligent and hopefully a little wiser, but I can’t shake the feeling that, in reality, I’m 14 a 14 year old play-acting as an adult.

Ever seen the movie “Big”? That’s what I feel like, only there’s no Zoltar machine for me to track down to put things right again.

In other words, I still feel about 14. I might look 25, I might be able to grow a full beard in 3 days…but the 14 year old me is still the one working all the controls.

I mean, car financing? Mortgages? 401k’s?

I don’t think the world quite gets it. These aren’t things I’m meant to deal with. These are things I’m meant to hear real grown ups, the ones who went to the meeting and got the hand-outs, talk about over the dinner table while I eat my fish sticks and wonder if the batteries for my Gameboy have charged up yet.

These are meant to be vague, abstract concepts that have no bearing on my daily life, or at least only affect me through a proxy.

For example, when I started college, my parents bought a life insurance policy on me. I didn’t know anything about it, except that I had to sign a bit of paper every so often.

That’s what my life is meant to be like. Someone else deals with all this, and gives me the bit of paper to sign.

I mean, come on, I’m me. I’m not supposed to know about these things.

Remember when you where a kid and someone would call your house and ask for Mr. (Your Surname), and you just automatically knew they were talking about your dad, even though technically they could be referring to you?

I still feel like that, only now the caller is convinced I’m the person they need to speak to, and won’t believe that the person they really need to be talking to is my Dad.

It’s at times like these that I’m convinced they teach the wrong stuff in schools. The basic math I need for every day life I can pick up and learn as I go…but they don’t teach you what to say or do when putting in a loan application, or what to look for in that car lease agreement.

The problem is that life changes far too abruptly. There’s no in-between.

I mean take my life for example. One day I was living at home. I didn’t have a house, I had a room. I didn’t have my own car, I had a scooter that I borrowed the money from my parents to buy. I had a full-time job, but it didn’t really matter if I lost it, because I didn’t have a mortgage or rent to pay. Fair enough, I gave a third of what I earned to my parents every month…but the big difference was if I suddenly found myself unable to pay it, it didn’t mean there’d be no food on the table.

Then one day, I board a flight to America, get married a month later, and suddenly I find myself cast in my Dad’s role.

You think you’re living in the real world until you take that one step forward, a step that while you’re taking it, you don’t feel is particularly important, until you hear those iron gates close behind you.

Then you hear a voice from deep within that says:

“Well, that was your childhood, I hope you had fun, because it’s over, and you don’t get another one. Oh, and have you thought about your 401k?”

1 comment:

OzzyC said...

... shorter of breath and one day closer to death