Well, I made it to 37. And, in the usual internet custom of blogging something reflective and profound when your birthday comes around, well… here I am, jumping on the bandwagon, contributing my part to that large batch of published information in the category of “Well, It Matters To Me.”
I don’t really feel 37 mentally, though my hair is more gray now than it’s ever been, so it’s starting to show externally. I don’t exercise like I should (because, frankly, it’s boring as crap) so I’ll claim being out of shape as well.
But I feel like I’ve done a lot, or at least enough to satisfy my definition of “a lot,” so I think there’s something to be said for that. My daughter, Phoenix, is now two and a half and the energy she exhibits puts tropical storms to shame. I think in that respect keeping up with her is something that keeps me young, though it keeps me exhausted at the same time.
I go to the chiropractor every month and I was mentioning to him how I always figured that I’d get into better shape as she got older. You know, she starts out as a baby and doesn’t require too much of my energy, but as she gets older and I have to keep up, I’d gradually get stronger and in better shape and everything would work out. “That’s, uh, that’s really not how it works,” he said, as he caused my spine to make a pretty awful cracking noise.
I think the biggest thing I’ve found as I get older is that I have a lot less time. When you’re young and single, you can just put your shoes on and head out to see a movie. You can go to the comic store on a whim and hang out for a couple of hours. Want to do a total dungeon siege in Skyrim? Go for it. You won’t be neglecting anyone and as long as you have a pizza, you’re set to go.
Now I’ve got a loving wife and a crazy kid. I wouldn’t trade them for the world. Seriously, they’re the best people I know and I can’t imagine life without them. So keep that in mind when I say this: There are times when I feel like I’ve lost something of myself and that my time feels a bit “held hostage.”
I still make it to the comic store, but it’s more monthly than weekly. I don’t hang out as long. And I’m having to become way, way more selective about what I read – not because of budget, but because I don’t have time to read. I spent a couple of magical hours a week or two ago finally getting to read the 2011 annual for one of the comics I get and reading through a full year-and-a-half of stories for another comic.
Evenings? Fuhgeddaboudit. Get home, toddler’s already there. You gotta be daddy from the time you get home until 8 when she goes to bed. You might get a reprieve if you hand her the iPad (she can figure out Netflix herself and find something to watch). Between 8 and 10 it’s nice to have an adult conversation that won’t be interrupted by a toddler, so it’s husband time. Usually that means you can do something that doesn’t require too much attention while you watch a movie together or something like that. But it’s not much. Nothing where it’d require any actual focus.
When I do get time, it’s an exercise in extreme time optimization. I might get, say, four hours while Jenn takes Phoe to the zoo. What do I do? Well, I really would like to go eat at this restaurant that Jenn’s not so into, but that means 15 minutes there, 30 to eat, 15 minutes back – nope, that’s an hour of my four. Skip eating, I have no time for that. OK, let’s say an hour of reading comics, 30 minutes of failing to learn guitar using Rocksmith, an hour to try and actually make headway in Skyrim… you get the idea. It’s a near minute-to-minute itinerary. And there are so many things I want to do. I want to learn electronics (got the books, got some Snap Circuits…). I want to make a little movie with the Muppet Whatnot Jenn got me. I’m taking online bartending classes (just for fun, not for career change). I have comics to read, home media center stuff I want to work on… you get the idea. That doesn’t even count the little things around the house that need to be fixed/re-painted/etc.
I just haven’t the time.
Maybe that’s really what it means to get older. You just don’t have the time anymore, so you have to really prioritize and just give up on some of the things you’d rather do.
But the good stuff is really good. Watching Phoenix just get into the Batman is Brave! book (and want to hear it over and over) is awesome. Hearing the crazy stuff she comes up with – words and phrases I had no idea she knew – is amazing.
So, here I am. 37. I’m not sure this is where I envisioned myself being, but it’s not a bad place to be. I can’t really say I have a “five year plan” because, I mean, I don’t know what I’m eating for dinner tonight. I don’t even remember what I ate for dinner last night.
And maybe that’s OK.