January 20, 2006

Fifteen year blink

Last time I checked, I was 21. The world was my oyster, my puppet. And I the master. I've played puppet master many times since the day I woke up to be 21. The day I could legally drink. A right of passage I still don't understand. I had less fun drinking that night that I think I ever did. It wasn't the people I was with (although only one name of all the people there sticks in my mind. Allen.) Or was it something else? Night after night drinking cases of beer the summer I turned 21. Busch Light Draft. 24 cans. 7 bucks. The feeling of unbridled energy. Being able to work a full day on 2 hours of drunken sleep. The easy laughter. The practical jokes.

I remember turning 25. Six Thousand Two Hundred and Twelve miles from home. Still drunk. Enough for a blackout. I remember the girl too. After the blackout. I've had many visions of perfection in my life. They were all different. They all were perfect for the moment they happened. Walking home the next morning with my shirt untucked. My eyes burning in the sun. A wry grin on my face. The smoke from the trash fires climbing into the pale blue sky. Far off black haired asian children squealing in delight at their play. Dogs chasing each other through the grimy streets. Nothing was new. Except the day. Simple perfection that day.

26 guess what? Yep, drunk again. 4623 miles from home this time. Berlin, GE. The day before my Birthday I slept in a Volkswagon Golf with 3 other guys. I have photos to prove it. That day I saw a Christo artwork live in person. HE wrapped the Reichstag (the seat of the German Parliament). A fan since childhood I was awed. The scale simply unbelievable. The royal blue rope will never leave my mind. Nor will seeing what was left of the Berlin Wall. Touching that rock that symbolized repression for so many years. Walking away with vigor and sadness in my steps.

Thirty-one came with the rocket's red glare. And nearly an hour of fireworks in the backyard that awed the neighborhood children. A $2,000 party I'll probably never see the likes of again. BBQ, fried chicken, slaw, mashed potatoes, biscuits, beer, wine, tequila, whiskey, 30 friends and cigars with a pretty girl I never kissed. They all flowed. Melded. Blended. Laughed. Told stories. Lied. Laughed some more. Red, white and blue decorations from the front step to the rear of the yard out back. I was safe. I was comfortable. I hadn't a care in the world. I'd become the master at throwing parties. The right blend of people. The right mix of personalities to make it interesting for everyone. The fireworks. They still dance in my eyes.

Birthdays are no longer milestones for me. The milestones are the people and the places. The pond in the park in Augsburg, Germany. Taking that pathological liars photograph. Some of the best portraits I've ever shot. I wanted her until I found out I could have her. Then her appeal dried up like the core of a old gnawed plum. Magical places filled with sounds I didn't understand and people I didn't want to know. The Gasthaus in Oberammagau where lunch turned into dinner with 5 friends of whom I remember two. Somewhere, I may even still have those hand-carved wooden monkeys. Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil. Standing in front of the Vietnam Memorial and knowing nothing else would ever affect me that way. Years later standing at Ground Zero in Sept. 2002 and knowing I was wrong.

See, I really didn't blink. I didn't miss a day. 15 years. Almost. I have a curious spring in my step and grin on my face that won't seem to fade. I linger in my mind less than I used to and think more when I'm there. I mean it when I say thank you. I learned how to say I'm sorry. Compliments are sincere. Gifts are rare. People surround us, but they are rare too. Cherish the moments. Cherish the time. It doesn't change. You do. You really didn't think it took me 15 years to blink did you?

13 Comments:

At 1:05 AM, Blogger piranha said...

wow mad munkey that was a blast to read. took me along on your wings...you know, in a way, that gives me hope....you know i remember how i was running along the riverside of the Rhein in Basel, Switzerland and jumped up and down and was just so blissfully happy...i asked myself, fuck, will this end one day? will i cease feeling like that? will life be less precious and less magical one day to me???how will it be when i am over 30, 40, 50?

i know that it won't cease to be that way. nto always happy but it never has been. but always moving, opening up questions, magical moments....

it s all about cherishing that casual dreamer....

 
At 9:54 AM, Blogger Still Searching... said...

It all goes by so fast, but every moment worth remembering.

 
At 10:18 AM, Blogger Buffalo said...

Particularly well done. You are learning some valuable lessons and, I'm sure, will continue to learn.

 
At 3:53 PM, Blogger Lil Bit said...

Beautiful.
Happy Birthday?

 
At 8:02 PM, Blogger 'nilla said...

"I wanted her until I found out I could have her. Then her appeal dried up like the core of a old gnawed plum. "

Wow. Powerful words. Love your blog. Never know what I am going to find here, but always enjoy it. I think I might nose around the archives a bit more if you don't mind.

And Happy Birthday, whenever it may be.

 
At 9:29 PM, Blogger LyZa said...

our life has its ups and downs.
cherishing every bit of it makes us live it to the fullest.


Happy Happy.

 
At 3:11 PM, Blogger Mad Munkey said...

It's not my birthday for another six months or so... Not that it matters. Sorry if I made it seem like it was.

 
At 8:52 PM, Blogger Neonalune said...

Great post. I was just discussing with my husband how I should never get my hopes up to have an awesome birthday past 21. No one really cares after that. But when you are a child everyone makes such a big deal out of your birthdays it's hard to get over that expectation.

I wish I could say I've done something exciting like you (well except for the drunkeness)on my birthdays...maybe one day :-)

 
At 7:30 PM, Blogger Audrey said...

That has to be the best post I've read in awhile.
Time passes so quickly it seems, and I for one have a paranoia of growing old.

I'm hoping that age is all a state of mind, and that I can continue to live each day to the fullest! Its all about enjoying life, people, experiences and not sweating the small stuff. :-)

 
At 9:49 AM, Blogger Sexy Suburbanite said...

Wow, you've had a great life so far. So much travelling and I must say I am jealous. I think everyone's 21st birthday is a letdown and then, after that, there are no more milestones to look forward to really. Life is strange like that.

 
At 1:32 PM, Blogger Schuyler said...

I used to look at birthdays as a way to say "yay!! I'm _this_ old now. I've lived _this_ long on the planet!! yay me!!!" Then, as I started to get older, I felt the way you list above. Then, one year, I went for a bike ride with a friend that I don't see as much as I would like. After we were done, as we were loading the bikes back up, she hugged me and said, "Happy Birthday!! I'm glad you were born." I was staggered. Suddenly, birthdays weren't something for the "birthday boy" to celebrate their time on the planet so much as they were chances for others to celebrate someone else's life. Makes me sad I'm now committed each year to a family vacation that will fall during the week of your birthday, MM. :-\

 
At 1:55 PM, Blogger 30Something said...

by far, by far far far... this is an absoultly wonderful post. I was with you at each turn of the years. Your descriptions are uncanny. I could almost smell the air surrounding you at each moment.

Awsome

Thanks

 
At 2:46 PM, Blogger Lil Bit said...

LMFAO! I just assumed it was your bitfday... w/all this reminiscing. Oh well...

 

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