My birthday has never really been anything special. Being born the day after Christmas, I’ve become accustomed to the celebration of my life often being overshadowed by the alleged birth of baby Jesus. And I totally get it. Not only was he born first, he’s the self-proclaimed son of God sent to absolve mankind of its sins. How can a kid from Brooklyn who’s just the son of an Army vet compete with that? Plus, there’s a whole marketing team behind everyone remembering December 25th on every calendar, whether they’re Christian or not.
So like I said, my birthday has never really been anything special. I generally ring it in with my family at the strike of midnight and spend the day pretty low-key. It wasn’t until around my 29th birthday that I actually started celebrating with a party, but even then I’ve learned to have the festivities a week or even sometimes two weeks before my actual born day. Because nine times out of ten, folks will be out of town or tied up with family and won’t be able to make any day-after-Christmas affairs.
I don’t say write any of this in the hopes of getting some sort of birthday pity from anyone, I’m just giving some context to where I’ve come, where I’m at and where I’m going on this 26th day of December, which marks my 36th year of life.
I’ve experienced and done a lot over the course of the past year—from legally changing my name to getting married to quitting one job to accept another to moving out of New York to living in Chicago to traveling to Japan to becoming an uncle to running and finishing a mini marathon to judging the Black Ms. New York/New Jersey pageant 2012 to not talking to my father for over a year to watching my wife lose her father last month to launching an online radio show to putting that same radio show on (temporary) hiatus to meeting Iyanla Vanzant to witnessing the bridge dedication of Sir Sidney Poitier firsthand in Paradise Island to meeting Ms. Bahamas to surviving the supposed end of the world to experiencing more stress in one year only to overcome it and come out stronger and wiser.
As the year 2012 comes to an end, I find myself reflecting on the events that have transpired over the past 12 months and what I hope to accomplish in the turning pages of the next calendar. I spent the past four years building up an online presence through this blog, only to let my new life get in the way. Let me rephrase that because what’s the point of having a life worth living if you don’t take time to experience it? What I mean to say is, my role as a dedicated husband is important, so are the day-to-day responsibilities of my new job, which helps me support my family. There are so but so many hours in the day and unfortunately the few that I get to myself oftentimes go towards sleep—and even those hours are fleeting.
But I miss this.
I miss the opportunity of sharing my thoughts and sparking conversations amongst anonymous friends. It’s the dialogues I’ve had here that have kept me sane, pushed me to think beyond the boundaries of my own experiences and quenches my desire to write—not just to fill some self-imposed quota or boost traffic, but to write because I have something worth saying.For my 24th birthday I got a tattoo on my right bicep that reads, “I Write Therefore I am…” I got it as a mark of independence as I’d just ended a three-year relationship, but also a reminder that I was dedicated to my craft, even though my path was barely carved out at that point in my life.
It’s hard to believe that was exactly 12 years ago. I look back at who I was then and how far I’ve come in the time since then. I went from a dreadlocked youth in baggy jeans with a penchant for taking my shirt off in clubs when I drank too much to a clean-cut man who actually wears his correct pant size and rarely sips on anything stronger than a glass of Riesling or sangria if at all these days.
For my 24th, I capped off my fresh ink experience with a night of drinking at a grown folks arcade in Times Square called Bar Code that was capped off with a trip to a nearby strip club called Bar Passions #RIP. It was what I considered fun at the time.
Today is much different. All I want for my birthday is to see Django Unchained and then sit around a table of good friends—who happen to be in town the day after Christmas—trading laughs and stories as we break bread. And when the night’s done, I’ll be happy in knowing that the woman by my side as I journey home is not just my friend but also my wife.I am in a good place this birthday. Maybe not the place I thought I’d be in but a good one nonetheless. I have my health. I have employment. I have good friends. I have my wife. I have hope that even more blessings are to come. But before I move forward, let me look back one last time at the 36 Lessons I Learned About Life By My 36th Birthday:
In no particular order…
1. Love is not something I can ever truly define, but when you feel it and it’s mutual there’s no need for any words other than “I do.”
2. No one is perfect, we’re all flawed creatures by design, so it’s just a matter of finding someone who can accept your imperfections as they are and you have to be willing to do the same.
3. Just because someone is family doesn’t mean they deserve your time, energy, love and certainly not your money.
4. True friends are the family we choose.
5. The world is bigger than your block, city or even your country; get out and see as much of it as often and as many times as possible.
6. There’s a big difference between a job and a career: find something you love and get paid for it.
7. Brand names are not your friend. Aspire for more than your surroundings but never spend what you don’t have and never will.
8. It is better to give than receive, but when you give from your heart it usually comes back to you. Maybe not immediately, but positive energy begets more of the same. Sometimes it just takes longer to circle back.
9. Treat everyone with the same respect that you would want shown. From interns to doormen to executives to janitors, you never know who that person will become and if the tables will one day turn.
10. Inner beauty ultimately trumps outer beauty, but not everyone is in a place to realize the difference or the value in the former.
11. An ex is usually an ex for a reason, don’t double guess yourself.
12. He/She isn’t with you because they’re not supposed to be at this point in time. Perhaps if you let them go they’ll come back in due time or you’ll accept the fact that they’re gone sooner.
13. Marriage like any relationship takes work, not just by one person but by all parties included or it’s destined to fail.
14. Just because someone else’s success seems undeserved or easier than your struggle doesn’t mean that yours is unattainable. Quitters just quit but it’s those who make it through struggle that appreciate the journey.
15. The longer you live with someone the more you learn about them and the more you mimic each other… it’s weird.
16. Real friends are the ones who remember the special days in your life without Facebook reminders.
17. Your mother might not have been someone you would hang out with if you were the same age, but she’s someone you love flaws and all.
18. There’s a difference between respect and fear. I’d rather anyone that listens to anything I say do it out of respect and not fear.
19. You grow out of people (family included). It’s a fact of life that we can’t all walk down the same path together forever.
20. If I knew then what I know now I probably wouldn’t be who I am now.
21. The most important job I’ve ever had is that of a husband… Well, until I become a father.
22. But fatherhood still scares me. #IDontWannaMessItUp
23. You can say what you mean without being mean.
24. Clothes don’t make the man (or woman) but how you present yourself to the world does play a role in how you are perceived and how you carry yourself. Dress up on the days you don’t have to.
25. Every no brings you one step closer to your first yes.
26. There are three types of arguments that you will never win, those about religion, politics and fraternities/sororities.
27. College isn’t for everyone. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have goals and aspirations for your own success.
28. New Year’s resolutions don’t have to come once a year. Setting a goal and dedicating yourself to accomplishing it has no expiration or start date.
29. Sex on a first date doesn’t make you a hoe, it’s hoe-like actions that make you a hoe.
30. A person without a real opinion on anything is just taking up space.
31. Insecure people usually talk the loudest and act the baddest, but I can usually see through their BS.
32. We’ve all dated the wrong person for longer than we should have, but I believe every experience serves a purpose.
33. The best dreams are the ones you have with your eyes wide open.
34. Always own a suit that fits and have a pair of good shoes in your closet; you never know when someone’s going to die or you’ll have a meeting that could change your life.
35. Be careful whom you call “friend,” just because Facebook and other social media sites uses the term loosely doesn’t mean you have to.
36. Do whatever you want on your birthday not what others think you should.
See y’all in 2013…