In less than twenty hours, I will reach another milestone: three dozen years upon this world. That’s about a dozen more than I intended, but I’ve at least managed to have some times worth living in this enforced surplus I’ve been given. After this, there’s really not another one to celebrate until I hit the big 4-0 (unless you count the Clerks milestone next year, which, sadly, I kind of do). But that’s okay, because this year is special enough to last awhile. You see, I am now She was when I was only seventeen. I traveled into the future (albeit the long way ’round), and found myself… diminished. There may have been a million reasons to hold on to a little bit of anger, but at least I could now tell myself to lay off on some of the little jokes, like mocking her for smoking Ultra Lights, or… Okay, I guess that’s basically it. Nineteen years (well, and six more months away), since I began the Adventures of Tex Batmart. Of all the possible outcomes I could foresee, this was never one of them, at least not exactly. Here I am, a husband, father, stepfather, and grandpa, some dude who works a Regular Joe job, having mostly abandoned his calling in order to pay the bills. I’ve redeemed some part of that last self-recrimination, but it’s still a work in progress, to be sure.
As of 1:44 p.m. tomorrow, I will have been around for 1,136,073,600 seconds (margin of error +/- 59 seconds), and I swear I’ve felt the weight of nearly all of them. Although, and maybe this is just the romantic stirring somewhere deep within me, there were a few that lasted for quite a bit longer than the clock recorded (yet weighing almost nothing in my gravitic reckoning), as I tapped into the wellspring of true happiness and rode the tidal waves of love. Sometimes I feel that I’m just too old to feel that kind of teenage ardor, the hopeless throes of passion that only the young can truly feel (or at least bother themselves to act upon). With every year that passes, I keep hearing that some future demographic is now the “new” (different, younger) demographic. Why are the goalposts continually being moved? Why is it that 36 has to force me back into my twenties? Why can’t the 30’s be the new 40’s? I feel like I’m stumbling up an escalator which is rolling slightly faster downward. By the time that I am dead, I will have only been the “New 21”. Forget that! I want to be all old and crotchety, if I am to live that long. I want to be decrepit and scream for teenaged hooligans to vacate my lawn. I don’t mind the trade-off of truly free and uncensored speech, if the only thing it means is that people disregard me. They’ve been doing so for nearly four decades, so I’d rather just go off on random people, if it’s all the same to you.
So what have I accomplished in these past three dozen years? I suppose that it depends upon what you feel merits the title of an accomplishment. I learned to sit up without being held, and to walk unaided. I mastered the use of indoor plumbing before I ever went to school. I made my career choice before arriving at double digits, and the first time that I ever fell in love, I was the same age as my son is now (my first kiss as well. I am grateful that my son has exponentially less game than I did, which is kind of depressing, from an evolutionary standpoint). I learned how to write by devouring the masters, and very nearly managed to almost learn guitar. I fell in love so many tens of times, that I should probably be nominated for some kind of unrequited award. I owned my own business when I was seventeen, and also… you know, became an adult, in the biblical sense (and I’m not referencing a Bar Mitzvah). I started at the bottom of the lowest rung of the restaurant industry to work my way up toward the top by the time my twenties were half over. I finally got married, and became a dad for real (having practiced on another youngster ten years before that), though not in that strict order. I’ve never gotten fired, having always chosen instead to quit (though once I learned about the ins and outs of unemployment, I began to reconsider the pride that I had taken in it).
But all of those are just things, you know? What have I done to change the world (for either good or evil)? I’ve never saved a whale, nor clubbed a baby seal. I have planted trees, but I also eat a lot of burgers. I have done my part to save the Amazon by selling my soul to the Seattle-based usurper, but it’s a hometown business, so I guess I’m still shopping locally? It used to be enough for me that I would be remembered, and now that I’ve passed along my D.N.A., my legend is almost guaranteed (though I should probably make sure that I can get a grandchild out of the Minkey at some point before patting myself upon the back). But now I seem to be hung up on having managed to accomplish something of worth. It’s like I feel that I must justify my existence, though I never really wanted it to start with. I want to write something of such beauty that it will resist the vagaries of time and pass down through the centuries without ever having been misquoted, I want to do something that will save someone else’s life. I want to reach out into the mists of the unknown with the pain which I have felt, and take someone suffering all alone, and pull them to their feet. I want to find out, once and for all, who it is I really am.