I’ve been getting my fair share of good-natured ribbing and teasing lately. No, not because of my constantly growing collection of ridiculous looking hairpieces and what have yous that habitually adorn this giant head of mine, but because I’m just weeks away from celebrating a pretty big milestone in my life and becoming a member of that oh-so special group that supposedly signals the end of youth, innocence and frivolity.
No, I’m not becoming a gay republican. I’m turning thirty.
Go ahead and ask it. Don’t you mean twenty-nine, again? Wink. Nudge.
No. I’m turning thirty. The big 3-0. Three decades old. Ass over teakettle over the hill I go.
In spite of what gay mythology supposedly teaches guys like me (that any man over twenty-nine may as well be put down and out of his misery), I really am okay with it. In fact, I haven’t been this excited about something since that night in high school when I got drunk with that boy from the lacrosse team who unbuttoned his jeans and asked me to…well…never mind. But seriously, I have waited all my life for this moment. And damn it, no one is going to rain on my parade. Not even myself.
When I think about turning thirty I can’t help but travel back to the years that have passed by. When I think about those times I tend to envision a giant road sign saying CONSTRUCTION ZONE AHEAD, or more often than not, DISASTER IMMENINENT! TURN BACK! Too bad I didn’t see those signs then. I was probably too busy fussing with my hair. Some things never change. In any case, if life is a work in progress, for the longest time I was the world’s shittiest employee. And it all started from day one.
My childhood was not a simple one. My family moved around a lot. My parents fought a lot. My brother disappeared a lot. I was left to my own devices; you guessed it, a lot. There’s nothing like starting your life where the glass is not just half empty, but the glass is shattered beyond repair kind of mentality to really set the stage for excellence.
As a teenager, I became sexually active with a boy my age from the neighborhood and we sort of bungee jumped into this whole new world called gay without knowing a whole helluva lot about it. We stumbled through the ups and downs of coming out, clumsily explored our way through sex (yes, even I at one point in my life have uttered the phrase, “You are so not putting that thing in there!”), and longing for acceptance. Unfortunately, there was so much more we never got to see through. He committed suicide and was buried on my eighteenth birthday. Now isn’t that just a ducky way to ring in adult hood?
And speaking of adulthood, please. My twenties were a nightmare of epic proportions. A series of disasters one right after the other, including, but certainly not limited to, me finding myself on the wrong side of the law, more than a few love affairs that went nowhere (or at least nowhere I wanted to be), watching more people in my life die, almost dying myself (most people go on vacation, I spent spring break 2003 quarantined to the hospital hooked up to machines unable to walk. Woo hoo!), and feeling like the most pathetic, useless failure allowed to walk on two legs. I wandered around with no direction or responsibility and became nearly impossible to be around lest you wanted to be taken down with me. Britney Spears is an amateur compared to who I was back then. Quite frankly, the only thing that didn’t suck ass occurred in my mid twenties, which was the day my therapist diagnosed me manic-depressive. I could have danced a fucking jig around his office with that newfound piece of information. Actually, seeing as how I spent most of those years in a blur alternating between one extreme mood and another, I probably did dance a jig around his office. But at least now I had an excuse.
So what the hell does any of this have to do with taking that giant leap over the hill you are probably asking? The answer is surprisingly simple. If you have ever felt disillusioned, broken, or aimless like I have, you may find yourself one day, if you’re lucky, face to face with the stunning realization that you can choose to be a victim of circumstance and trudge through the rest of your life pissed off and bitter, you can continue to embark on paths that lead you to nothing but headaches and horseshit, OR you can wake up and say enough is enough and get your ass in gear and turn things around. There’s no one stopping you but yourself. At least that was my case.
I choose to look at turning thirty as a fresh start because my eyes are finally open to the endless sea of possibilities that are all waiting for me and I’m ready to store a good deal of my emotional baggage in the overhead compartment. It in itself is a milestone I got this far to begin with, so why not celebrate and embrace it. It really is about time I got over that broken glass thing and just got myself a new one for God’s sake.
And besides, turning thirty surely guarantees me a kick ass party.
Essential Download: "Something Good"
Artisit: Elaine Stritch
Available On: At Liberty!
Originally published in the September 2007 issue of The Empty Closet, New York State’s Oldest Continuously-Published LGTB newspaper since 1973, through the Gay Alliance of Genesee Valley.