Today is the last day of my 55th trip around the sun. Shortly before I wake up tomorrow morning, I’ll hit 56. Eight years ago today, I was driving home to Mondoville after the conclusion of my brother’s trial, and wondering what my new normal (a phrase that has if anything become even more overused in recent months) was going to look like. Today, it looks like the inside of my office, as I prepare for another week of teaching. It occurs to me that I’ve lived in Mondoville longer than any other place. I don’t expect to be here for the rest of my life — although I don’t necessarily get the deciding vote in such matters. Mrs. M and I figure that after retirement, we’ll head to whatever area the Spawn has made home, and with luck, we’ll go into the grandparenting business. But for now, and for the 18 years I’ve been here, this isn’t a bad place to be; it’s done right by Mrs. M, the Spawn, and Your Genial Host.
I have to admit, I’m a little surprised to have made it this far — on some days, more than a little surprised. It isn’t that I see 56 as impossibly old, but whether it was the death of my cousin/closest childhood friend, my mom’s debilitating illness, my dad’s bouts with cancer, or just some peculiar grimness or morbidity in my nature, I’ve spent a significant portion of my life being suspicious of my life, holding a tragic view that colors everything from my sense of humor to my politics (such as they remain).
That isn’t to say I’m in a hurry to be rid of it, though there have been times I think I could have accepted that with some equanimity. But I’ve always had a great deal of sympathy for the worldviews expressed in Housman and Hardy, E.A. Robinson and Fitzgerald’s translations of Omar Khayyam. It could also be part of what draws me to medieval literature, the grim resolve of the Old English lif laene and the Castle of Perseverance‘s reminder to “think on your last ending.” At the same time, I’ve tried (with mixed success) to enjoy the pleasures I’ve had available — books, music, conversation with people who are dear to me, IBC Root Beer and praline pecan ice cream (Ah, had Omar only known!) The result has been a tendency to take the cash and let the credit go, although the surface features of my life certainly don’t make for much of a wild biography.
Tomorrow, I’ll be ten years younger than my dad was when his life was cut short, nine years from my mom, fifteen to twenty-two years younger than the final ages of the three grandparents I knew. (My paternal grandfather died at the age of 47, four years before I was born.) Maybe I’ll catch or surpass them. I don’t know that it’s likely, but I didn’t think I’d get here either, so I guess we’ll see. In the meantime, I can read another book, talk to another friend, or have another burger. None of that will be forever, but all of it can be good while it lasts.
In fictioneering news, I’m pleased to note that I’ll be taking part in a Noir at the Bar reading in Real City on Wednesday, 27 October.
I’d love to see you there!
Well, I have a summary to write for my Freshpeeps, so I probably should wrap this up. I’ve linked to this song before, but it was more than ten years ago, so I’m okay with revisiting it. T.C. Atlantic were a mid-60s teen band from Minneapolis, but they managed to get this little mind-melter into wax during their brief run. Dating from 1966, the lads were slightly ahead of the psychedelic curve. This is “Faces,” and between the rattlesnake snare drum, mercury-tinged harmonies, and threshold-of-pain Farfisa organ, it’s a nifty little sugar cube indeed.
See you soon!