The Captain Is Twenty Nine

Days Until I Am Married:  40
Current Weight:  172
Today is my twenty-ninth birthday.  My feelings about my birthday are conflicted; it has always been both a blessing and a curse.

My birthday usually falls on Labor Day weekend, which really sucked when I was a kid.  Opening presents both at the end of summer and few days before I returned to school was always difficult.  At most I had three days to ensure He-Man’s defeat of Skeletor before being forced to learn cursive against my will.1

During my college years the Labor Day birthday was fantastic.  Having a birthday the second week of school meant no one had homework and everyone still had money to go out.  I had a huge birthday blowout four years in a row.

Currently my Labor Day birthday has translated into having a paid day off to turn twenty-nine.  Not a bad deal.  After a weekend that involved watching the kick-off of college football season2, a boat ride in the Gulf and birthday party with family, and two solid nites of drinking with friends in Sarasota, I spent my birthday with Megan enjoying fine dining.

Megan returned to Florida for my birthday after having spent the weekend in St. Louis for her bachelorette party/wedding shower.  We had lunch in Tampa and I consumed the best coconut-crème pie known to man.  Megan stayed in Tampa to attend a conference, and I drove four-plus hours3 back to Tallahassee.

Now I am sitting at my computer enjoying my favorite beer, Carlsberg, and pondering the number twenty-nine.  Here is where the true conflict arises.
I spent most my twenty-ninth birthday contemplating the significance of growing a year older.  This practice dates back to my twenty-second birthday.  Every year since then I have tried to pinpoint exactly what turning a year older means to me.  This usually involves an intense period of self-reflection.  For example, I spent my twenty-fifth birthday walking around Sunset Strip in Hollywood by myself trying to figure out the direction of my life.  This year my thoughts were consumed with the concept of youth.  I determined that twenty-nine is the last year that I can consider myself young.  This is a difficult reality to accept.

Looking back, I spent all of my teenage years trying to prove how mature I was despite my age.  I spent the early-to-mid part of my twenties enjoying the benefits of youth with minimal drawbacks.  This carefree feeling lasted until my twenty-seventh birthday.

Twenty-seven freaked me out for two reasons.  First off, twenty-seven has signaled the demise of people far greater than me.  Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain and Jim Morrison died during their twenty-seventh year.  They managed greatness by twenty-seven; I managed to complete half of my Master’s degree.

Second, twenty-seven signaled the entrance into my late twenties.  If 20-23 is the early-twenties, then 24-26 is the mid-twenties, and 27-29 is the late twenties.  In my mind the late twenties involved accepting my own mortality.

The late twenties is the last bastion of youth.  Twenty-five was the last time that growing a year older was beneficial to me.  When I turned twenty-five, my car insurance premium went down and I was able to rent a car without incurring additional fees.  This is the last time that growing a year older results in benefits of any kind.  My next beneficial birthday is when I turn fifty-five and I qualify for acceptance into AARP4.

Every birthday since twenty-five has involved the unpleasant reality of growing older.  At twenty-six, I could still claim I was in my mid twenties.  Twenty-seven made me realize that my youth was on a downhill trajectory.  If this is true, then thirty is the bottom of the hill.
This is currently how I feel, close to the bottom of a gradual hill that goes straight down from here on out.  In other words I don’t feel old but I don’t feel remotely young anymore.  Ten years ago the main priority on my birthday was getting intoxicated immediately.  Today I am more concerned being sharp for work tomorrow.  Age is a funny thing.  So here’s to twenty-nine, my last opportunity to live fast and die young.  Good riddance.

Ciao,

The Captain

1  I remember telling my third grade teacher that learning cursive was pointless.  Why do I need to know that the lower case “m” has three arches instead of two?  Technology has made my hatred of handwriting legitimate.  God bless the computer.

2  While I still don’t understand what is exciting about watching an extremely lopsided football game played by 19-year-olds, I can appreciate consuming fried foods and cheap booze at noon on a Saturday.

3  Usually the trip takes four hours, which is comparable to St. Louis to Kansas City.  Today I spent an extra hour on the highway at a dead standstill because of an accident involving an SUV and an eighteen-wheeler.  This was infuriating for more reasons than I care to admit.

4  This is true unless you count the constitutional provision that requires thirty-five years of age to run for President of the United States.

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