(A letter written
to my friends after a night out celebrating my 30th birthday.)
Life is funny. I keep waiting for it to calm down, get easier, settle into a familiar pattern so I can sail comfortably into old age. But it's just not working out like that. I've suddenly found myself, at the age of 30, jobless, loveless and going bowling with a whole bunch of people I seem to have accidentally acquired along the way. And, apart from my house (which is really owned by the bank), this strange collection of people is all I seem to have to show for my thirty years in this world. If I've learnt anything it's that, no matter how hard you think or plan or imagine, life never delivers what you expect. It has a way of dropping the unexpected in front of you at random moments and saying "Go on, deal with this, I dare you." I used to get freaked out. Now I just take it as it comes. Blow by blow, riding the wave, lurching from one challenge to the next. Keep moving, keep smiling, keep dancing. Don't look back, don't look down, don't stop for breath. And suddenly you catch yourself in a mirror and you're heading out for your thirtieth birthday. Hair styled, coat on, taxi waiting. And I still don't know who I am and what I'm doing. Who are these people I'm spending the evening with and why are they so important? And they are. I can't deny that. Somehow they've all touched me, deep down where it really scars. They are who I am, they make me me. But they're all just as lost as I am. Maybe they don't all know it yet, but some do. You can see it in every word, every gesture, every smile. The ship's sinking but goddam it I'm going down with a melon flavour Vodka Kick in my hand. And so forward into the unchartered waters of the future. Right here, right now it feels like everything I've ever done, everything I've ever been and every decision I've ever made has been building to this one moment. Past and present colliding on a rainy Monday night in a bowling alley in Birmingham. Have I engineered this watershed or has it been thrust upon me? I keep waiting for the revelation, the bolt of lightening, the guardian angel but so far nothing. Perhaps the answer is here, inside me, but I'm damned if I can find it. I lurch on, clinging to the familiar for support - the house, the friends, the city - like a drunk clinging to a lamppost, waiting for the strength to take the next unsteady step, knowing he has to go on but unsure where he's going to end up and what state he'll be in when he gets there. All he can hope for is that when the cold sobriety of morning slaps him in the face the blurry memories he has are good ones. Isn't that all any of us can hope for?
(If you'd like to see the photos from that rather fatefully described evening, click here)