The One With a Quarter Century
Somehow, twenty-five always felt like a big deal. So glamorous. Somehow, twenty-five seemed a long way off. Somehow, twenty-five managed to sneak up on me. I always thought by twenty-five I’d be rich, famous, and beautiful. I thought I’d be living it up. Instead I sometimes feel like I’m still waiting for my life to begin.
I didn’t go out Friday night. I probably should have. It would have helped take my mind off things. On nights at home, on the eve of a birthday, I can’t help but get reflective – it’s that need to overanalyze that both makes me take stock, stay humble, and push harder, and also gets me back inside my head, frustrated, rather than living out in the world. I started thinking about all that I have accomplished in these twenty-five years. So much good. But also so much less than I might have imagined. I didn’t necessarily have a list of things I wanted to have accomplished by twenty-five, but I did have a sense that I wanted to have accomplished something more than what I have. It’s so hard to hold onto any of it.
Then Saturday happened. The day started out slow. I hit the gym. Watched some TV. Worked on that book that I’m never going to finish. And talked to the girlfriend. Jameel and I started getting ready at 5:30 and by 6:30 we were dressed to the nines. I had a grey wool suit, black skinny-tie, black pants, and pointy shoes. I wore the Armani watch the girlfriend bought me for my birthday. And then we headed out to the Windows Christmas party. We took a private car to Bellevue, arriving just at 7PM when Snowflake Lane – the nightly holiday show in Bellevue Square – was taking place. We frolicked in the street, taking pictures with the fake-snow, and made an entrance worthy of Danny Ocean. We took fabulous pictures, learned craps, drank our free drinks, and the ladies managed to score a few free drinks from the male bartenders. My attempts to charm the female bartender worked less-well. Around ten we headed out to Capitol Hill, where the birthday brigade was there to greet me at Julia’s on Broadway. We arrived just as the first act of Le Faux was beginning. Le Faux is a drag queen musical revue hosted by a lovely woman named Sean Paul. sHe brought me up on stage because it was my birthday, and remarked that I must be a rug muncher – which I suppose means he could tell I was one of the few straight men in the room. We danced and drank to the tunes of Liza Minelli, Cher, Tina Turner, and, of course, Madonna. And when it was all over we headed to a Karaoke Bar for the after-party. We sang Red Hot Chilli Peppers. Madonna. Michael Jackson’s Will You Be There, and even some Ace of Base. The night ended as it should: drunk, barking at the moon, in an abandoned parking lot, around 4AM.
I woke up this morning with every part of my body aching. And now it’s 12:08 on December the 8th. And I’m officially a quarter-century old. I knew that you would come to wish me. And I started to wonder how you would see me when you arrived. I started scrolling through Facebook pictures, laughing at all the amazing times we’ve had. I laughed. Nothing else matters. In the end, I suppose all we’re left are the memories of our experiences. All we’re left with are the people we shared our brief time on this Earth with. I am truly blessed to have lived so much in such a short time. To have had so much good in my life. To have had such intense happiness for so many years. To have been surrounded by these people. Every day has been better than the last. Every day has been and uphill struggle but always a struggle to bigger & better things. I want to scream I’m so happy, and for no reason at all. No reason but that in this moment I see the mountain ahead and know that I was born to climb.