Birthdays are for kids. It's something they look forward to (presents and birthday cake), and something that's a milestone to reach for as you are always inching closer to a goal -- another grade up, another step towards adulthood, or driving, or graduating, or being able to legally drink. When you get to be older it's not such a momentous occasion except when you hit the ones that end in 0. Like 30, and 40, and in my case now 50. Those tend to be bigger deals. They mark time like stepping stones along the pathway of life.
This past Sunday I turned 50. December 11, 2011, the golden anniversary of my birth in Denver, Colorado's General Rose Memorial Hospital on December 11, 1961. Born to unknown parents, and adopted 10 days later by George and Carol Gardner of Salt Lake City, Utah. At least it says that on my birth certificate. Well AARP somehow figured it out -- I don't know how but they did. Sure enough, the day before my birthday, the mailman brings me my AARP membership card. Their timing is exquisite. And as much as I'd like to imagine I'm nearing "retirement", at least in the "work" sense, I'm no where close so where do these twits get off telling me I should join AARP? I mean the gall of it -- where does this organization get off telling me I'm old?
So here I sit in my office in Olympia at the half-century mark. I have to say it feels very weird to say "I'm 50", let alone think that I'm that age. Lord knows I don't "feel" it, whatever "feeling" 50 is supposed to feel like. I mean I'm not out looking for new tennis balls to put on the bottom of my walker or anything, although that was my response to friends who accused me of being too slow the other night. No, I still feel like I'm in my late 20s -- at least in my head. That's when I identified in my brain that I stopped growing old -- stopped maturing as it were. Its where in my head I still think I am. Granted I often think I'm riding a motorcycle down an open highway too, but dementia hasn't quite set in, that's just daydreaming. I don't know how I got this old -- but I can look back at some milestones that seem like yesterday -- moving to Seattle 22 years ago, graduating from ASU Grad School 25 years ago, even meeting Tony 15 years ago. And remembering news events -- the first major one I remember is the moon landing in 1969. Then the Watergate hearings interrupting my after school cartoons on TV. Things kids study in history class these days. I love watching reruns of "All In The Family" these days because it makes it seem like that was just yesterday. Time passes quickly when you get older -- the days seem like hours, unlike when you are younger and the days seem like years.
My good friends Garland and Joseph decided that they would host a party for me -- however since both of them live in teeny-tiny apartments and can't host a large group, it was decided by them that the party would be at my house. They invited a lot of old friends and colleagues and neighbors and quite a few trooped in and out of the reception/drop in thing we had. We had way too much food that wasn't good for you, but that's the point of a celebration isn't it? It was great to see so many friends -- which reminded me how lucky a guy I am to have them all in my life.
About half way through the afternoon, my little neighbor Charlotte (Charley), who is Diego's younger (although not littler) sister, came up to me while I was talking with some of my friends and tugged on my pant leg. I looked down at her and said "Hi Charley, what's up?", and she looked up at me and said -- no, demanded: "IT'S TIME FOR CAKE!!!!" I said "It is?" And she said most emphatically, "YES!", and furthermore she had to sing "Happy Birthday" to me. So who was I to argue with that logic, and so we went into the dining room where the cake was. And although it was cold in Seattle that day, I'm glad they didn't put 50 candles on the cake, it would have started a fire for sure.
Charley helped me blow out the candles -- both of them, and we all had some cake. What did I wish for? Well if I said what it was it wouldn't come true would it? Yep, birthdays are for kids -- and I'd like to think of myself as a great big kid. Thanks for the help Charlotte. Now where did I put my walker? I got some new tennis balls to put on it.