Today I celebrate my thirty-sixth birthday. I’m at the crossroads where I’m supposed to change my verbiage when someone asks how old I am. I don’t think I’m really at the stage of saying I am thirty-six years old. However, since I’m still reading comics and collecting toys – doesn’t thirty-six years young kind of fit?
My whole life I’ve watched those around me rush to grow up. They rushed into life and they are miserable. For the most part I took my time. I enjoyed my stages and I have done well. I’m even still youngish for individuals in the career stage I’m at. It’s great that after all these years I’m still one of the young guys (but that gap is getting narrower).
Instead of working through high school to afford a car and insurance, I opted not to get my license. I didn’t get my license until I was twenty. I didn’t have a reason before then (of course I was driving my girlfriends car solo and illegally for about a year and half). My job at the time required me to drive, so I got my license – no big deal. I had done the drivers ed. in high school.
The problem with waiting so long to get your license (and having been driving for quite a while), is that you drive like a real person instead of someone stressed for a test. I was doing rolling stops and I caught it after I noticed she was marking something at each stop. I also wasn’t using a turn signal in a turning only lane – because come on if you do anything other than turn you’re an idiot. I passed (just barely – but passed). All because I drove like a real person. I didn’t drive like an idiot – just a real person.
I lied on my résumé to get my first computer job (hey resume background checkers – this has been removed). I had met a server operator of a BBS and talked to him about technology on the BBS. I did not know it at the time but this operator was fifteen years old. He had mentioned that his family had a computer repair business in Amherst named PC Elite and I should come down and apply. I knew computers, but I had no real paper trail background. So I added to my résumé that I was an administrator in the computer lab at college.
In the grand scheme that was a white lie. I was great at my job. The lie in the end only got me in the door. I was doing manual labor at a marina and I couldn’t survive another winter. I had to get out of that place and into something else. Geeks are a notorious soft a squishy lot when it comes to hard manual labor.
It wasn’t because it was a grown-up thing to do for a job. You could say that from the outside. For me it was that I was allowed to play with computer all day every day. There wasn’t much else that was/is better in the world. I only have my career path because it is still play. I get paid pretty well, but it is about the enjoyment of the job more than anything else. My work is still play sixteen years and eight job changes since that first computer job. I have also never been fired (though I was downsized once). Those with a passion will always be rewarded.
The only rush to grow up that I did was to move out of my mother’s house. Between my eighteenth birthday and my twenty-second I lived at home a total of four months. That time was not consecutive. I went to college just under two months after turning eighteen. After my single year I came back home for a week than I moved in with my girlfriend. Two years later I dumped her for a chance to date this other girl and I moved back home. I things ended up well after one or two months and I moved into her house with her parents. I ended getting an apartment with that girl and then married her.
On the surface I did marry young. I was twenty-two and she was nineteen. We were engaged after four months. We were married just about sixteen months after our first date. It wasn’t because it was a grown up thing to do. It was because I would always have a friend to play with. A girl who liked science fiction and would eventually have her own action figures and video games. It was someone who was like me, but different enough to make it great.
After ten years of marriage we had a son. Now in front of him we have to do “let’s pretend we are grown-ups and apply rules that we would have hated ourselves so we don’t screw him up” game. After he is asleep or out of sight we are the same as we ever were. Still play acting that we are in our early twenties. I’m hoping we still think we are in our twenties when we are really in our sixties.
When I’m in my sixties my son will be in his thirties. I’ll link him back to this story (or shoot him an email with this story if my blog is gone). I’ll ask him if he was in a hurry to grow up. If he still plays with toys and calls dibs on any toys he buys for his kids after they outgrow them. I’ll ask if I have taught him to enjoy life and disregard what society thinks is immature. I’ll question if he actually follows it.
I’m not old yet. I may never actually become old. I’m hoping that my son follows the being young forever mentality. I also pray that the lesson and beliefs get passed down to the generations that come after me. The less my family grows up, the happier all of us down the line will be. I’ve watched family members that came before me grow up. They can sit around and drink tea and discuss politics. I’m hoping to survive to see my great grand-kids and having light saber duels with them.
That is I’m thirty-six years young. I’m tying this up wearing a Pac-Man t-shirt and looking at my Star Wars Galaxies avatar as my desktop background. Within arms reach is a gameboy and about five or six toys that are all mine. There is a pile of working computer equipment (since a geek can never truly have enough) sitting at my feet and through out my house. I’m pretty much that twenty-two year old that my sixteen year old self wanted to be. I’m frozen there still hunting for action figures. I’m still playing video games. I’m still hoping that I’ll always kick my son’s butt in Super Mario Bros. In the end you can say I’m happy, I’m content, and I’m still hoping that it will always be that way.