Not only how the fuck did I turn 50? Seems odd that I made it through some situations that maybe I shouldn’t have.
To be honest, I’ve been thinking about this since I decided to leave portland last spring. I hoped to be out on the trail or at least in a tent in Mexico somewhere when this time was marked. But things shifted and changed. And then I was looking forward to being with friends and family on this occasion, but that plan also took a different turn. So here I was in a little mountain town.
I actually worked the day of my birth. No big deal really. Work a bit (that is why I am here) then off the next couple of days to celebrate and go a little nutty in planning and reflection. My co-workers welcomed me to work with a rousing mixed language version of happy birthday and a bottle of whiskey…these are some great folks. I was doing great.
Then I got off work
I decided to treat myself to dinner and a beverage and was going to head home. At a beverage station, I sat down to write and it hit me, when I wake up in the morning, I will be 50 fucking years old. Not that old to some, really old to others, just another day to most. I’ve never freaked out over a birthday before and didn’t really know how to do it so I just rode it out. My decision was to not go to sleep…then I won’t wake up and then I won’t be 50. I was very rational about the whole thing.
I wasn’t ready
I’m not really open to the alternative
I was headed to one of my usual hop-water spots, but at the last minute I went up the stairs instead of down and found a new place where I wouldn’t know someone…yet
The bartender asked what I was having.
When I wake up I turn 50 what should I have tonight
A local whiskey its on me. Happy birthday
Soon I was chatting it up with the band that was about to play: guitar, bass, banjo (mountain music)
And I headed home
I did sleep
I did wake
Everything was a o k
I had things I needed to get done that day before I could get into celebration mode, but first, breakfast….remember those vegan rancheros I had a few weeks ago? Yup, I went back for more.
Soon I was caffeinated and fed and the day just took off. And I was into the swing of things.
Then I would get a text
Or a call
Or an email
All fantastic and loving and amazing
Meanwhile, I just kept trying to work out what this all means.
Nothing really. It all means nothing
Not in that nihilistic way of nothing, but really
I have been fortunate enough to “hike my own hike”
I have danced to my own songs in my head/feet in my own way. (I like to think emma would be proud)
Every day since I drove the hell out of that town I grew up in. Each day since has been a lesson in how to do that. And how have I been inspired to do that? People. Strangers. Friends….
ART. Art has inspired me.
Writers: journalism, fiction, non-fiction, the uncategorizable
This song helped me understand myself (thank goodness it came out while i was still in my 20s)
Anyway, back to the celebration, celebration
It took me to the next day to go out and actually celebrate.
I made a great breakfast and started the day slow and easy
I went to the hot springs that bubble up in the middle of town and had a nice soak and some good chats
Went to get a snack and some beverages
And the people I’ve gotten to casually know at my favorite spots bought my drinks as I told them I was celebrating my day. I had so many lovely conversations with so many great people
So here is what I have learned about myself in the last year…last year I spent my day with my great pals…pals who are like brothers to me
I was having a tough time trying to deal with so much from the co-op I worked at and making plans to take off to the unknown
Trying to make sense of it all. I really couldn’t have done it without them and all the pals that inspire and instigated with me (p.s. if I know you, you are one of them)
I actually did it
I took off
I set myself free from all of it
Well actually I traded one kind of stress for another
Stressors I couldn’t and can’t understand for ones I can
Makes one hell of a difference
It’s a journey that I hope does not end anytime soon
I don’t know what is ahead, but I relish the mystery
I yearn for the mystery
What and who is around the corner? I look forward to finding out
I am 50 years old
If my genes tell me anything, I am likely to live much longer depending on speeding trucks and texting drivers and rising seas and burning lands and toxic air and nuclear button pushing nut heads
I don’t want to settle down
But I do like going slower and looking and listening and smelling and tasting and touching and feeling
A reminder that home, for me, is a verb: a place in motion and I am just trying to not fall off