One year I asked my Mom to get me a dog for Christmas.
I don’t remember how old I was at the time, but I must have been fairly young. Young enough that the memory of that particular Christmas is the only crisp one I have of that particular time in my life. You know how there are certain memories you have that are so bright and vivid that the minute you think of them you feel like you are there in the moment all over again?
I have a good life, and I don’t want to ever give the impression that I do not. I have a wonderful son, a wonderful other half, a home, and a good job. I act on a fairly regular basis, and I’m moderately active in social networking circles. I’ve got it pretty good.
I am, however, acutely aware of the missed opportunities in my life. Two things, in particular. I am aware of how much damage I did to my body by not making the conscious choice to be healthy until my late twenties, and of how I pissed away the opportunity to actually go to college full time. More so than my weight, the fact that I did not take my education seriously until it was far too late for me to devote all of my energy to it is a constant source of shame and sadness for me.
I had a taste of what is described in this song. One small, fleeting moment in my life that I can still remember vividly to this day. Six months that I absolutely pissed away and which I describe as being miserably lonely, and yet I can recall countless moments from that time period that still make me smile to this day.
The first day of orientation and how excited and nervous I was. Sitting in the Student Hall surrounded by other students like myself and feeling all of that energy in the room.
Sharing a cigarette with my English professor on the steps of the building our class was in and realizing that we were sitting right next to the spot where George Wallace protested the integration of the University of Alabama.
The first time I went to the gamers meeting and realizing that I wasn’t the only geek on campus.
Seeing comedian Henry Cho at the campus nightclub, and how he was having so much fun just telling us stories about his college days that he went about an hour over when he was supposed to finish.
Spending my Sundays with old family friends at their home outside of Tuscaloosa watching the Buccaneers play.
The absolute stunning beauty of the campus at the University of Alabama.
The parade of honking cars that snaked all over campus the night we beat the Auburn.
Hanging out with my Hall Monitor and thinking that the math he was studying was something I’d never even come close to comprehending.
Watching Twin Peaks in the basement of Mann Hall, the residence hall on campus that didn’t have monitors because you basically had to be a MENSA member to get in. As a result it was the place where you could score the best drugs and there was ALWAYS some kind of party going on.
I could go on, but I need to get ready to go to work and as much as I am enjoying this trip down memory lane there’s nothing I can do to get these experiences back. That’s why this song makes me sad. If I had simply done the bare minimum…just put out SOME kind of effort…I could have had four or more years to build these kind of memories. I am, alas, stuck with a mere six months.
More than some people get for sure, but not nearly enough by far.
So. Yeah. I’m 37 now. One step closer to that magically delicious number of 40.
It was a damned good birthday. Krystalle took me out to eat at Ted Peters Smoked Fish, a St. Petersburg institution that I thought I had never been to. I’m not so sure of that anymore. While I was eating the fish spread, in particular, kept making me think of my Grandpa Andres. I didn’t have any actual memories of going there with him, but I know for a fact that he loved the restaurant. When I called my Mother to ask if he had ever taken me there as a child she said it was certainly possible, so I think he may very well have done so. Of course thinking of that set me on a trip down memory lane remembering the places here in St. Pete that mean something to me. While we were eating at Ted Peters we were sitting almost directly across the street from Ten Pin Lanes – one of the places my Great Grandparents used to go bowling on a regular basis. On the drive home we passed the church where I went to Boy Scouts and the high school my sister went to. We passed by the nursing home where my Grandmother died and the Taco Bell we used to go to on Tuesday nights when we were dancing at Bennigan’s After Dark. We passed the Middle School I went to where I really started to feel a passion for theater and the youth center I was sent to during the summer as a child where I learned lots of things about life that I’m not entirely sure my Mother sent me there to learn.
All these memories in the course of a 5 mile drive.
I do love this town. If for no other reason than for the fact that I can go almost anywhere here and remember something that can put a smile on my face.
My evening was taken up by yet another performance of Night of the Living Dead, but it was pleasantly accompanied by some Pumpkin Ginger Cupcakes that Katrina made for me that were absolutely amazing. I had four of them. Maybe five? I don’t remember and I don’t care. They were my birthday present and between those cupcakes and lunch at Ted Peters I still probably took in fewer calories than I would have had I done the annual trip to Crazy Buffet. After the show we stopped by Four Green Fields and I accepted one of the drinks that were offered to me as a birthday present (I kinda had to drive home and had the boy with me. Not really a recipe for getting tipsy, yanno?).
Life is good. I am happy and surrounded by amazing people. You couldn’t really ask for much more on a bithday.