I was born a baby, 30 years ago today.
I was a happy, Roald Dahl-reading, tree climbing child.
I remember preferring the social side of school to the educational side and running around almost feral in the long, endless summer holidays. I had loads of action figures and would happily play with them for hours, the living-room becoming the wild west, a jungle or even just a mini version of my hometown, with Dick Tracey doing the school-run before going off to solve his latest case. I had a large collection of teddy bears and cuddly toys that surrounded me and kept me safe as I slept. I was never bored and I felt loved. For all the time I spent day-dreaming and making up stories, I could never imagine that I would ever really be this old.
I was the worst type of teenager.
I didn’t shout and drink and rebel, I sat quietly and read and became cynical before my time. It led me to seek solitude and look for deeper meaning in song lyrics and feel alone among my friends. And I always felt like there was something missing.
Throughout most of my 20s, I was overcome with a deep shyness and mistrust.
I didn’t see it creeping up behind me and was more than a bit surprised when it arrived. I started to use the time alone to mull over what I might have lost, and to search the lyrics for clues about what I’d misplaced. I realised that I felt alone in crowded rooms because no spark of recognition had ever returned my gaze. I started to feel pensive and existential every New Year’s Eve, thinking about what had happened over the past year and what might be gone at the end of the year to come. All this wallowing was now accompanied by self-deprecation and a complete lack of gusto.
At times over the last 30 years I have been apathetic and p-pathetic.
But today I am hopeful.
At 30 years old I have cultivated a taste for red wine, coffee and strong cheeses. I know what sort of books I like, what clothes suit me and which people deserve a chance. I’m fine with the fact I love both Sister Act 2 and Apocalypse Now. It no longer takes drinking a place dry to get me on the dance-floor and I don’t care that some people think my tastes are as tragic as my dancing. I now know that it’s right that I mock my own melodramas and try to seek the advice of friends rather than unqualified indie music therapists. I like that the grey hairs in my ‘fro make me look reasonably distinguished and I’m safe in the knowledge that by the time I actually start looking like Don King, no one will remember who he was. I don’t know what I expected today but the sky hasn’t fallen in and I’m not drowning in a deep, black depression. I’ve merely taken the obligatory cakes and cookies in to work with me and tonight I’m going for a civilised dinner with my nearest and dearest. Tomorrow night I’m going to get drunker than I have done in a while and ever hope to be again.
Today, I feel closer to the me that played for hours in the sunshine than I have in a long, long time. I will still feel pensive and existential on New Year’s Eve but on this milestone I realise that things aren’t actually that bad.