I completed my 41st year on the 30th of last month. Birthdays are usually a big event when you’re a kid. There’s cake and ice cream, presents from all your family members, parties with your friends, and you get to feel special for moving ahead and leaving all those other kids behind until they catch up to you at some point in the next year.
As you grow older, your special day becomes less of a production, the pool of gift givers dwindles, and once you reach 21, the ‘I can’t wait until I’m…’ wish vanishes. Then, if you’re lucky enough to keep racking up the years, that day can become dreaded for some folks while others start having trouble remembering exactly what day it falls on, and recalling their age involves a pause of a few seconds and math involving fingers on both hands and maybe a few toes too.
This year, I got a gift I won’t soon forget. It didn’t come wrapped in a box, it wasn’t ordered from Amazon, I don’t have to find any place to store it, and it wasn’t a surprise. It showed up in my driveway in a little convertible sports car that wasn’t as big as my bed. Justin, who I hadn’t seen in a couple years, flew in from North Carolina to spend a couple days hanging out with me.
We didn’t have plans or a schedule, and that was nice. The only rush during his time here was him getting back to the airport at 4:30 AM for his 6 AM flight home. While he was here, we ate well, watched MSU play a horrible football game, and got to do something we used to do quite often. We went fishing at the farm.
Late Saturday morning, we got in my skiff and meandered around the pond, going from shady spot to shady spot remembering when, whatever-happened-to-ing, and occasionally catching a fish. He did a pretty good job of catching some decent-for-that-pond bass. (Back in the day, he was the bass whisperer there.)
After a couple hours of actively fishing, we let the breeze pin us to the bank in a shady spot under some pine trees and talked for a good while about life, our philosophy on whatever, and we fell back into a comfortable conversational rhythm–one like we had when we were in our teens and early 20s but seasoned by the wind and tides that have shaped us into the men we are now. It was one of those happenings that will take its place among those special memories I’ll always be able to pull up and smile about.
Happy birthday to me. Thanks, Buddy…