Today I turn 36.
Gone are the mid-decade milestones: the 16s, the 21s, and the 25s (rental car). Now it’s all about the decades, until social security, which will be at least 67, but probably later.
I used to tell my Grandpa Wilt that I graduated college and then retired. That I was living life backwards and traveling while I was full of questions, curiosity, energy, and the capability to sit and stand in one place on buses, planes, and boats for obscene amounts of time.
And when I was working, I was SCUBA diving. I joked that I was going to be a boat captain. Grandpa was a common sense company man with a suit and a tie and a healthy retirement.
Grandpa didn’t lived long enough to see what became of all my traveling. His hard work helped fund my first trip into the World. Grandma and Grandpa gave all the grandkids $5,000 when they graduated college. Even I wouldn’t have guessed that that investment would carry me to 36, and led to a meaningful career telling stories.
If birthday wishes could come true, I’d wish he were here for a few days to read my books and talk over coffee. I wish we could talk about raising kids, and about his time in Europe and Korea in the military. I wish he could introduce my kids to his funny phrases because they are indeed “farts in skillets.”
From Then to Now
My daughter Harper just turned six. I remember six.
When my parents were 36, I was 11. I clearly remember when they were 36.
I remember when my grandpa retired.
What does 36 feel like? It feels like the first birthday that is less about me and more about those who came before and those who come after.
I feel younger, reliving a childhood through my kids, Griffin and Harper.
I feel youthful. I have more energy now than ever. I credit meaningful work, CrossFit, and not having kids under three.
I’m old enough to know that there is so much I don’t know.
I’m old enough to realize, I’m neither invincible or immortal, which empowers me to enjoy the small moments that make up a day and a life.
As I near middle age, I look to my kids and see the future, and I look to my parents and see the past. I see that I carry my family’s story from then to now.
And for that I feel honored.