My father turned seventy a week back. The year before, there was question whether he'd make it past sixty-nine. It was good to call him and wish him a happy birthday.
When we spoke, he mused how each new decade is a new adventure. A new lesson to be learned. My father was glad to be out of his sixties finally. His sixties were about sickness; my mother's and his own. About loss and learning to live with it. About death; my mother's and his own, although, his was a brief and he got back to this side of the grave with some quick medical intervention. My mother was not so lucky.
This got me thinking. Well, I'm always thinking, the penance of a mind that never quiets. I caught myself meditating upon the decades of my adult life, and the lessons contained therein.
My roaring twenties, as I so poetically call them, was where I learned, as if there was any doubt, that I was not like the other boys. The idea of a suburban house, a lobotomized wife, two-point-five kids, a dog and a career was not success, but perdition. Team sports were phallocentric soap operas for morons and the social construct of reality was for squares. I needed to find my own way.
I knew my end-all be-all was not to be a parent, any more than whatever it was I was doing for money at the time. I do love my daughter beyond measure and believe I have done things for her, but I did not put my existence on hold for her. She was just a new factor in the equation of me finding my own way, and, most likely, that way of thinking was a contributing factor in my divorce from her mother.
That's not to say I don't have regrets. Everyone regrets. I like to believe my daughter understands, or at least, accepts, what came to pass, but I don't pry. We have our relationship in which we get along and have our moments. Sometimes I wish for more, sometimes it's just enough.
So it goes...
Here and now, I theorize my thirties were about a sense of place. I rocked living near downtown in the big bad city in that little historical district. There were the other places I wandered through the greater metroplex, like uptown, Little Asia, Capital Hill, and the Highlands. Downtown itself, where I would go to monkeywatch, was neon magic and mystery and koo-koo-kachu.
Then the mountains happened...
Oh, the mountains. Kashmir. I am now five years and change away from anywhere in my thirties and this landscape sings to me upon esoteric tongues. I live in the mountains of Colorado! I live where other people come to vacation!
To get here, I was relentless. I all but created a myth around it, if you believe the words of others. Here, I put down roots and found my Homeplace. Here, forever and a day later, this place does not fail to fascinate. To resonate. I fall in love daily, if not moment by moment in ways language cannot articulate.
Five years and change into my forties, perhaps I am learning about community. About being involved in something rather than passively being a part or observing with that cold reptilian detachment. I am on the board of a historical society, a museum committee, a stewardship group for a historical structure out in the Backcountry, two land-use commissions, and I've counted ballots in a few elections along with the other random bits of volunteerisum.
Me. Yeh, the not a joiner for fear of lynch-mob mentality. Me. Yeh, the solitary one. How the world has turned and isn't it funny how it's all played out? And, no, I do not bring up my involvements to whip it out on the table and have the live studio audience marvel at the magnificence of my genitalia. That's rude.
By fifty, there is something I have intended to accomplish, although, the price is admission is something, which pains me grievously. However, when I look that now four years and change ahead, I wonder what lesson, what adventure awaits me at the half-century decade. As intriguing a mystery as that is, I am not in too big a hurry. After all, I still have the rest of my forties to play out, and, that lesson, that adventure is far from over.