Saturday, as I was lounging by my sister’s pool, I started to think about past milestone birthdays and what they meant to me at the time they were occurring. Sixteen and twenty-one were essentially nothing to remember…consider some of that due to my conservative, sheltered up-bringing. But mind you, I would not trade those years.

As thirty came beckoning, I was mortified. I thought I was losing my ‘youth’ for good. I felt that I had to start getting serious about the things in my life…a house, finances for the future, marriage. Yes, you read that correctly…marriage! This whole thought process was way before I ever came to accept that I was gay. Yet thirty came and passed. And I survived. I actually found it to be a great year for me. I received my first major promotion into insurance claims management after 4 years on the ‘frontline’ and a hefty raise. Somehow I was feeling better about myself and working out for the first time in my life. I hadn’t lost a lick of youth in that self-perceived “treacherous’ leap from twenty-something to thirty-something. In fact, my thirties brought me much satisfaction…an expanding group of work friends, lots of worldly travel, and most importantly homeownership in two SF Bay Area locations. I even stepped out of my financial-conservative shell and began dabbling in the stock market. I did quite well. I cringe as I look back at what I had going into the whole dot.com debacle. And I hadn’t even invested in so called dot.com stocks. That’s history now.

Then came the next milestone, FORTY! This one I went into saying, ‘It will be a breeze. I’m so ready for forty.’ Wrong. My brother-in-law decided that I had to have a proper 40th birthday celebration. He arranged a Napa Valley wine-tasting stint – four wineries, with a chauffeured Black-Tie mini bus. About twenty went out for the day. What I found disappointing was that none of my friends attended (and I had passed along a list of about five people I wanted to come). I think that in part set the tone for the rest of the day. I knew I could always count on my family but as always, I never had a group of friends that seemed to care enough about me. I sat on the bus as we drove through the wine country thinking about what my future really held for me. I was starting to feel a burning emptiness. I had what many would want but I had so little. I felt then that I had not accomplished anything of ‘significance that left a mark,’ that I was somehow alone (no definitive, loyal friends). The whole wine trip ended up being a downer for me. Somehow at the end of the day, I mustered up a ‘smiley’ appearance. I had to…my family hit me with a surprise dinner at a quaint Mexican Restaurant in Calistoga. Oddly enough, my forties have been a period of change. Some good, some not so good. Dad passed away. I made a major career move. And I gave up a certain amount of financial security. But I’ve been blessed with extended family additions, many new friends that I care dearly for and who I know care for me, and I am growing comfortable with the real me. I still have a ways to go but I am getting there.

So how in the hell did I get on this topic of passing years…well as I was lounging by the pool I was also thinking of a friend who seems to be stepping into a lot of change as he celebrates his 40th BIRTHDAY. It’s unnerving change but he’s going to get through it. The person celebrating the big 4-0 is my bud, BIGG, over at My Confessions. I hope you’ll all stop by and wish him well. Seems like I have several buds making that milestone leap from 39 to 40 this year…Derek at Still Thinking and Al at Synaptic Blue (unless he’s managed to turn the tide already and I missed it).

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