On Wednesday I was at work and was called into the kitchen/lounge. My first thought was why is everybody here? My second thought was hey, there's a cake. My last thought was Hey, it's my birthday this week!
So, yes, I forgot it was my birthday this week. I have reached the gloriously wise age of 34! Which is a lot like 33, only bigger. And better. Everybody knows 34 is where it's happenin'.
But, yeah... I sort of forgot my birthday. It's possible this qualifies me for Official Lamenss and Old Fogeydom. Old Fogeydom strikes everyone at a different time, and never strikes some people. But apparently it has struck me at the keen age of 34.
Which makes me sort of nostalgic for childhood, for the sheer joy of birthdays. My daughter was so excited, and gave me a huge hug, and said she loved me, and then went and made me a car out of cardboard and paper for a present. Which is probably as close as I'll get to my birthday request of a Mini Cooper. And her excitement made me excited, but... sort of vicariously. It's odd, in that I now look forward to my kids' birthdays, but forget my own.
It makes me wonder where that birthday joy goes. I suppose it just gets transmuted and transferred. I remember, though, as a kid, the excitement of it, an excitement that was sometimes grander than the event itself. I remember going with my best friend, Tyler, to rent some movies for my birthday. Actually, we were going to rent a VCR (or was it a Beta?), because this would have been 1983 or 1984, and in those days that's what you did. Only aliens and officially lucky folk had video players in their own homes.
I was six or seven, Tyler a year older. We were excited. My friends were gonna come over. Games, sports, food, cake. And movies! Rock on. We wanted something exciting, a blast of action that would match the excitement and adrenaline of a birthday, that greatest of things. Sci-fi, we thought! Like Return of the Jedi! Oh yeah!
We selected Tron.
Yes, the original Tron.
Let us say that this did not turn out to be the movie that these young boys were hoping for, or expected. Let us also say that the lightsaber action was somewhat limited. Let us also say, in conclusion, that this particular room full of puzzled six- and seven-year-olds did not finish watching the glory that was Tron.
There was disappointment.
And yet there was still that birthday joy. We went outside, and it was one of those glorious fall days. Blue sky, piles of coloured leaves on the ground, that crisp, musky scent of autumn lingering everywhere. You could almost taste Halloween, like a touch of pumpkin on the tongue.
We played sports. We screwed around, bugged each other, laughed. My different groups of friends came together and everyone got along (in fact, years later, some of these guys from different groups would meet in high school, recognize each other from those long ago birthday parties, and become best friends themselves). And, of course, there was a gluttony of G.I. Joe figures, Transformers, pizza, and cake.
There was something irrepressible about a birthday back then. Now I'm not even certain what I want to do on my birthday. Favourite meal? Who knows. All I know is that I would like to see my kids, to see a bit of that irrepressible joy reflected from their eyes. Even though "34 years old" probably seems like a description of the age of mountains or oceans. "When I was young, there was no summer, and winter reigned all year, and we lived in tunnels beneath the ice, and then God made North America and invented the donut..."
I find myself nostalgic for the past. Yet, when I woke up this morning, I came downstairs with my kids. I made myself a coffee. My daughter hugged me. (I changed a diaper, but we'll ignore that part.) Beautiful reds and oranges littered the eastern horizon, limned with a sharp and slanted morning yellow. Tufts of fog lingered, woven through the greenery and haunting the hollows between the fields. The grass was white and sharp with frost.
And watching this, sipping coffee, my kids at my side, I realized that life was pretty damn good.
Tron or no Tron.