Sunday, August 21, 2016

30 Years

I believe it was John Lennon who said "And so this is 30." Not really. I use that joke a lot. I last did it in a Thanksgiving post. Anyway... They call it the Big Three Oh. And that's how old I am. How am I feeling about it? Not as bad as some of my friends. They're going through the "OMG I'm so old now" thing. And I'm going through the "Yeah, I was born in 1986, I'm 30" thing.

I'll recap a conversation I had with a friend via Facebook Messenger Thursday a few minutes after midnight:

"Whoa! You're 30! You seem so much younger."

"Yeah, I'm 30. I was born in 1986, graduated high school in 2004."

"Wow! You don't seem 30."

And it continues like that for a while.

I was thinking about past birthdays and thought it would be fun to see if I can remember what I did for every birthday in my life. Around the time I turned 5 is when most of my memories start, and one of them is my birthday. A few of the early ones may be spotty and hazy. And, then a few of them after 21 might be hazy as well.

Age 05, 1991 ... We lived in an apartment on Flatwoods Road in Ravenswood, West Virginia. I remember I got a bunch of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles toys.

Age 06, 1992 ... No recollection

Age 07, 1993 ... No recollection

Age 08, 1994 ... No recollection, but I do remember that I had been to a couple birthday parties held at McDonalds. And I wanted one of those, but my mom wouldn't do it.

Age 09, 1995 ... This was when I was in my phase of liking hockey for some reason. I got a pair of Wayne Gretzky shoes and a new hockey stick. Me and my neighbor, Josh, played roller hockey in his driveway.

Age 10, 1996 ... I don't remember my exact birthday, but I remember two moments right before and after. I got my ear pierced when I was 8. Just the left ear. That was the only one you got back then, or people talked about you. I wanted to get another one. Why? I don't know. I already had the earring in the bottom of my ear, so I got one at the top. That was a couple days before my 10th birthday. School started a couple days after my birthday. I remember on the first day, Mrs. Kearns - the teacher - talked about how she had been in Charleston the day before to see a speech from Bill Clinton and got a sunburn.

Age 11, 1997 ... We had the party at my grandpa's. This was around the time I started to fall in love with wrestling, so that was the theme. I wanted my cake to have "nWo" written on it in icing, but for some reason that request was ignored. We watched WrestleMania 13, featuring one of the greatest matches in the history of all wrestling -- Bret Hart vs Steve Austin. My friend Joe and I loved it all. My friends Vince and Tyler, who hated wrestling, sat there for three hours.

Age 12, 1998 ... My mom's friend Paula and her 1-year-old son had been staying with me and my mom for a couple months at this time. Paula had some sort of appointment in Charleston that day and so I needed to go with her to watch her son while she went inside. Her car didn't have A/C, so it was miserable going up. Then I sat in the car with her son for what felt like forever, but was likely just an hour or so. Then the car broke down three times on the 2-hour drive back home. It was a long day. Solid contender for worst birthday ever.

Age 13, 1999 ... When I waited tables for a couple years, my fellow employees always hated the cheesy birthday songs we were supposed to sing when a table requested it. The reason why I never hated it and was known for being one of the most energetic and loud singers was because of my 13th birthday. My mom and her boyfriend got into an argument that evening, so he wasn't joining us for my birthday celebration. It was a negative mood as we sat at Shoney's celebrating me becoming a teenager. Then people came out singing and clapping and bringing me a piece of cake and it made me smile and feel good. And when I had the chance to do the clapping and dessert-giving, I always remembered that I could help have a positive impact on somebody's day.

Age 14, 2000 ... I went back-to-school shopping with my dad and his family. It was the first time I had ever been to an Olive Garden. I apparently lived a very sheltered life as a child. Near the end of the meal, as I got up to walk to the restroom, people started walking toward me and clapping, so I had to sit back down until they were done.

Age 15, 2001 ... I don't recall there being too much of a celebration this year. My mom and I had just moved to Princeton a couple months prior. Since it was the summer, and we didn't live right in town, I hadn't made any friends my own age yet. School started a week or so later. After the 2nd or 3rd day, my cat had kittens. Probably one of my earliest eye rolls in life was after hearing my mom tell me that I should tell everybody about the kittens and it would help me make friends.

Age 16, 2002 ... My girlfriend Kelly came over. We watched "Black Sheep" and held hands.

Age 17, 2003 ... Again, hung out with Kelly. I had been in Ripley with my grandpa for like a week or so before that. My allergies were really bad for some reason. I remember I woke up one day and there was so much gunk and mucus and watery stuff coming out of my eyes that it had dried up in my eyelashes while I was sleeping and I couldn't open my eyes when I woke up.

Age 18, 2004 ... The day I became a man was also the first day of college. I began the day at 9:30 in the remedial math class, taught by the tennis coach who has a mullet. He gave a speech that day basically saying "You're in the class because you're not good at math." He pointed to a coat hook on the wall. He said, "Hang your ego up on that as soon as you walk in the door." It was also my first day of learning that what happens in high school doesn't matter anymore. I was walking through the student center and was stopped by a table of four people I graduated with. I had only been friends with one of them. But I was accepted into the group immediately because we had that common high school bond in this new area.

Age 19, 2005 ... I didn't really do anything, I don't think. I hadn't been intending to grow my hair out, but around the time of my birthday I realized that it had literally been a year since my last trim. It was long and in a ponytail. So I got it cut. That's my main memory from turning 19.

Age 20, 2006 ... I don't think I had a party this year. School always started around my birthday at this point. And I never really cared about a birthday party.

Age 21, 2007 ... The night before, I spent my 21st birthday with a bunch of my friends having a few cocktails. On my actual birthday, I was there for freshman orientation, since I was the Editor-in-Chief of the student newspaper. I had recently gotten my first tattoo, so I showed that off to a bunch of people.

Age 22, 2008 ... I hung out with my friend at his band practice, after we were both done working at Pizza Hut that night. That's about all I remember. I got to play the drums a little bit.

Age 23, 2009 ... Me and my friend Mark had a joint party at the local strip club. We had been going so often that summer that the strippers knew us -- a couple gave us their real names and one even added us on Facebook. It was a fun time. 

Age 24, 2010 ... Candace, the girlfriend at this point, had balloons sent to my apartment, as she lived three hours away. That was sweet. Later that day, I'm on Concord's campus and send a tweet making some sort of joke about their being a lot of attractive 18-year-old girls around. Candace is incensed, using her good deed against me. "I send you balloons and you do something like this!" We had our volatile moments.

Age 25, 2011 ... I think the actual day was spent in a bar with some friends. But the actual "birthday party" was spent in Morgantown with Candace. She tolerated my wrestling love and ordered SummerSlam for me. That was the culmination of the "Summer of Punk" angle.

Age 26, 2012 ... Again, I don't recall doing anything on my actual birthday. The next day was the wedding of one of my friends. I wore a white shirt with a blue tie, without realizing that was the color theme of the entire wedding party. It was a fun time.

Age 27, 2013 ... I had recently started working with a guy named Matt. This was the day we officially became friends, I think. We had known each other casually for a month or so, but he found out it was my birthday and he made a fuss about how we had to go out. We started out at Cheers, the sketchiest of sketchy bars in Princeton. We met a nice lady inside and talked to her. We later walked outside and saw her puking. We then went to Danny's, where against my better judgement I did several shots of Jack Daniels and had several bottles of Bud Light Lime. I had to be at work at 8 a.m. the next day. The employee I'm supposed to let inside at 9:30 finally wakes me up at 10 asking where I'm at.

Age 28, 2014 ... Matt and I again hit the bar. We knew the bartender. We drank for free. And we drank a lot. I remember just being handed tons of random shots. At one point, the bartender comes over with a bottle of Jack Daniels and tells me to open my mouth. And he just starts pouring it in. After a while, I start going behind the bar and getting my own beers. Near the end of the night, I'm double-fisting a Smirnoff Green Apple and a Diet Coke. The bar serves food during the day. I go back and start making sandwiches for people. The bartender comes out, looks at me in shock and asks what I'm doing. "Making sandwiches. Want one?" He thinks for a second before saying yes.

Age 29, 2015 ... Am I getting more responsible as I get older? Probably just more tired. I worked that morning and afternoon, then I went home and didn't go out. 

Age 30, 2016 ... Went to a "Business After Hours" networking thing held by the Chamber of Commerce with some friends from work. The chamber people are tipped off that it's my birthday and get a room of people to sing to me. Afterwards, I hit the Luray bar scene and spend the day after my birthday recovering.

And there's my first 30 years. What's gonna happen in my next 30 years? Then start singing the awful Tim McGraw song to yourself...

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