My daughter’s spring break coincided with my birthday this year. It was nice to have her home to mark my 53rd lap around the calendar. I worked all day on Tuesday and didn’t get home until 7:30. It was good that I was working at a new job. It was bad that it was at a job that I hate.
The boss is a nice enough man, but the pay is rotten, the work is uninteresting, and the working conditions are poor. It’s always cold. As we sat down to dinner, I didn’t think about how far I have fallen in my career. Instead, we joked around and laughed – my wife, our two daughters, and me.
My nights have been restless for a very long time. There are few respites from the worry over debt. The picking and choosing of who gets paid and who doesn’t can put a crimp in anyone’s outlook, but playing the woe is me card is boring, no matter how suitable it is.
Peaks and valleys are a part of life, so the next great opportunity may pop up tomorrow, or never. That’s a pretty big gap. It’s about as wide as being told that things will get better and actually believing that they will. Blind faith is a positive thing for many, but to me it’s useless. I’m not in the habit of lying to myself just to get through another day.
There’s nothing cheery about anything that I’ve written here so far. Birthdays are supposed to be about cheer. They are supposed to be about celebrating survival. Longevity is appealing. I’d rather be here than not, but that alone is not nearly enough.
During dinner, the birth stories made an appearance. My wife and I couldn’t remember ours, of course, but we have no trouble remembering the births of our daughters. The eldest really hates those stories. Just then, I became my mom. She’s a demonstrative storyteller who can place herself in the moment when she reminisces. Some stories have been retold dozens of times with each rendition as vibrantly conveyed as the last. It’s like she’s in The Zone. My daughter’s embarrassment only makes me want to tell more. It’s a perverse way to show affection, I know, but the fun is undeniable.
Over time, my daughters have learned how to select presents for me. Utility trumps glitz. A pair of sweatpants that I will wear for years until the fabric is in tatters easily beats jewelry that will sit in a drawer. New shorts for the summer are always welcome. I have all of the technology that I need, so there’s no reason for them to spend a lot of money on the latest gizmo. Besides, when my wife sent me a text saying that she wants to use the credit card that I always leave at home for emergencies to “buy a couple of things,” I knew that I would be funding the purchase of my presents.
The presents themselves aren’t really important, only the effort is. My girls like to make Daddy’s birthday special. They always succeed just by being there.
Fifty-three years is a long time. As a teen, I thought that thirty was ancient. After dinner, my wife and daughters unanimously suggested that I do away with the gray hair by dying it. I probably won’t – too much trouble and maintenance. They didn’t insist, but their offer to help stands. I countered with:
“I’m thinking of cutting it all off like Michael Jordan.”
They all shook their heads.
“You don’t know if you have the right type of head for that, until it’s too late!”
It’s worked for Walter White, a.k.a. “Heisenberg”. The Breaking Bad character is only six-months older than me. He’s married, has two children, and was dissatisfied with his career.
Maybe it’s time for me to do a little breaking bad of my own.
If you draw, paint, or Photoshop, download my picture and show me what I would look like with a shaved head.
Email your creation to me and I’ll add it to the post.
Let’s have some fun!
For inspiration, here’s Mike Robins on YouTube displaying his talent by drawing Walter White.