It's the Mayan Day 0, again. And I'm 43 years old, too. And it's a monday. No woman no cry runs through my head in "G". I can't sing it in its native key, "C". I learned how to play it on bass, last week, in the native key. It's stuck in my head, but not in the order it's sung.
"Said I remember, when we used to sit"...
I wish I'd kept a log of how I felt on every birthday over the course of my life. I suspect that up until age 8 or so it was a plainly joyful occasion, but I can't remember them. In fact, I can't remember a single birthday prior to my 16th, and that one only because my gf made it memorable.
The only parties I remember from my youth were from the Night in Venice boat parade - after that, how could a birthday party compare? As far as I was concerned Night in Venice WAS my birthday party (and my brother's, too). 100,000 people flooding a not-so-dry town, boats festooned with lights, pool parties every few feet.
What could top that?
The people that have big celebrations for their birthdays - well, most of their friends were nearby - mine have always been spread all around the world - and unable to travel. I was never one for small parties, either. I have figured that one out - I spent most of my life consuming compressed experience - reading books in 2 hours that took 2 years to write - living on what became the internet - and a real time anything smaller than 100k people tended to not hold my attention.
Not until I started blogging the birthdays in 2002(Belize), 2003 (Cursing the Moon's pull on the space program), 2004 (the same gf I had at 16 made my 39th quite memorable), 2005 (I'd just as soon not talk about it), 2006 (solving global warming), 2007 (taking off for a trip around the world), and now 2008 (reflecting)- has my state of mind stuck with me.
I remember how my dad, flush with the memories of visiting "the shore" with his mom and dad, when he was a kid back in the 1940s and 1950s, resolved to live there when he grew up - and he achieved that goal. He even changed his name from "Ron" to "Mike" along that journey, how or why or when I haven't figured out.
I remember fishing with him, I guess I was 12, one summer when we found an enormous school of bluefish, birds working everywhere. We went through it again and again - 3,4 lines on the boat hitting at once - we'd leap from fishing pole to fishing pole and pull in enormous fish after enormous fish...
He told me, decades later, that ultimately he got tired of it and steered away from the birds working... He caught a lot of fish when I was growing up. We could count on a meal, often fill a freezer, and/or share the extras with our neighbors. Somebody was always catching fish.
And we were sailing hobie cats, and jetskis... yet always I remember the sadness's of summer - how, as Bob Marley would say it:
"Good friends we've had, and good friends we've lost... Along the way"
Summer would end, and everybody new I'd met would go home, wherever that was - whether it was to Pennsylvania or Ireland.
Donal O'Rearden - where are you now? Al? Christine?
As I got older, the goodbyes got harder.
"In this bright future, you can't forget your past"
These emotions are especially sharp now, as every friend I had growing up - and almost every friend I've made this year - and every friend I made in between adolescence and retirement - is now far, far away.
My birthday, to me, more than anything else, signifies the end of summer. People start going home in the middle of august, taking seashells and other souvenirs, promising to be back again.
The whole town would close up by early fall, and then winter would settle in, school start, the theaters close, and the surf run wild and cold. My dad was always kind of annoyed with my winter malaise - this is paradise - he would say - But there's nothing to do!?
"So dry your tears, I say"
I can't go home anymore - the house I grew up in sells for 7 figures now - a week's rent by the beach is $1600 - and every time I've been "home" in the last decade all the good memories about the place that come to mind are quickly outweighed by the bad - there's still no jobs year round, and all the people that stayed have all been forced onto the mainland.
The bluefish no longer school - you are lucky to catch a croaker noawadays - and a small flounder - woo-hoo! It's not worth expending the gas to fish there anymore. The last time I went out, I got boarded by cop boats, twice.
The only bookstore... still only sells discount books.
"Everything's gonna be alright" "Everything's gonna be alright" "Everything's gonna be alright" "Everything's gonna be alright"
There was no way I could stay in Ocean City after I turned 18, there were no jobs for a computer geek that didn't involve a mainframe and security cameras, and my only other real choice was to become a dealer of one sort or another. So, after 7 years of misadventures, I left, with the sea still embedded in my veins, for another beach town, Santa Cruz, California. That was the happiest time in my life - high technology, with sand and surf 13 blocks away. I got on the waiting list for a slip in the harbor when I arrived, and was still on it, 17 years later, when I left.
I can vaguely remember a few birthdays in my 20s and 30s, but not my state of mind. I remember endless hours at Natural Bridges, watching the Perseids meteor shower - or, at least trying to - in nights of rain, fog, or clouds. If I can remember any general mode it was:
How could you be, on one day, special - when beaten into you the rest of the year you weren't? Why do small groups of friends gather to celebrate your birthday with you when, if absolutely everybody with a birthday got together and introduced themselves, you could have a huge celebration?
Fast forward to today. The writing I do now...
"Ob... Observing, the hypocrites"
I am thinking of giving up for painting, and I can't go home anymore (I crave a sub from Joe's), but I did find a place much like it - San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua.
Moving to central america was a heavily deferred, but now realized dream. I live, now 50 meters from the beach, 30 meters from a pulperia, in a place that I can afford without strain.
"Mingle with the good people we meet"
It's better than my birthplace, which mostly got visitors from the states - here, an endless stream of tourists come visit from all over the world. Maybe it's like the paradise that my dad moved to that's now lost, that was lost before I finished growing up.
I wish I'd come here ten years ago, when women under 25 were still interesting, and skipped the internet boom entirely. What a fork in my life that would have been! What a musician I could be now!
There is no high tech except what I brought with me. I rarely turn most of it on. And no jobs, either - but I can telecommute now. I'm saving up for a small sailboat, and I'll be able to anchor it in this harbor anytime I damn well please.
Perhaps next year I'll be able to remember more of my lost youth, while sitting offshore, fishing lines snapping inside some flock of birds, working...
and change my name from "Mike" to "David"
"My feet is my only carriage So I've got to push on through
Here little darlin Don't shed no tears No woman, no cry"
...under the Milky Way, watching the Perseids fall.