Did you ever stay home from school for three days in a row because you were sick? Then you go back on the fourth day and the random kids, who you weren’t really friends with, ask you where you’ve been all week, as if they didn’t already know.
Then your day of discovery begins.
You can tell someone has been sitting at your desk because your Duo-Tangs (do kids still use Duo-Tangs?) aren’t aligned to the right anymore. Your pencil is gone (someone needed it), your chair is different (someone switched it), and a block letter “S” (you know the one) has been drawn on the corner of your desk.
There’s also a wrapper in your desk for reasons I still don’t understand.
It seems to be a universal understanding that if you’re missing from school for more than two days, your desk becomes a garbage disposal.
Everything is different and all you want to do is blend right back in, act like you were never gone, and didn’t watch The Price is Right for the last three days, while eating lunch, and trying to remember what it’s like to breathe through your nose. Nope, not you.
Well, that’s how I feel right now, as I type up this blog post and publish it for all of you to read for the first time in over a month.
This feels a bit awkward, but it shouldn’t. It’s me. Paul. Cue the confetti the cannon!
Alright, that was a good warm-up. Let’s go.
My birthday was exactly a month ago. There wasn’t a blog post about it. There wasn’t a list of, “28 Things I’ve Learned In 28 Years” that I struggled to think of. My birthday just felt like another day this year, for a few reasons I don’t want to mention.
Did you know that unless you publicize your birthday on social media, no one knows it’s your birthday except for maybe two people? Try it at home.
I tried not to be bitter about it, but you don’t forget when people forget your birthday.
September has always been my favourite month of the year. Part of it is because of my birthday. Part of it is the weather. But a big part of it was it felt like the beginning of a new year.
I think having the school year start right after my birthday (sometimes the day of), played into that.
To me, September feels like January more than January feels like January. A renewed sense of purpose permeates my body and carries me into October.
I didn’t feel that this year. And, honestly, I had felt it less and less since I had finished school. All of a sudden, September was lacking everything I had always known it to be.
Part of me is in denial that I am 28. It doesn’t feel real.
And I’m trying to bite my tongue, or in this case, fingertips, and try not to say that, “I’m old!” because I know there is someone out there older than me who will just write in the comments section, “Oh Paul, you’re not old!”, and I’d rather not have to deal with that.
I don’t feel old. There, happy? My age just feels inflated. Swollen, even. Like it just got its wisdom teeth taken out. But not to fear, after a few days the swelling will go down and it’ll be 23 again.
Except it won’t.
I guess I’m just bothered by what the expectations are for someone who is 28. I’m someone who will try to find the joke in most things and oftentimes, I’ll share that on social media.
But while I do that, there are people my age sharing photos of themselves getting married, or buying a house, or getting engaged, or having a kid, or their latest vacation spot.
Side note: Why does it feel like everyone else is always on vacation? I swear, it’s like an international relay race. One person comes back from Italy and they hand the biscotti off to someone who goes to Paris, who comes back and hands the baguette off to the next person to go to Spain. It just never ends.
Can you not just stay home, sit on your couch, and watch football for ten straight hours on Sunday like me? What is in Paris that you can’t see on Google images?
That last line is tongue- in-cheek, but only if you have a problem with what I said.
Maybe I’m just wary of crossing over into the “bad Dad joke” lane of social media content too soon.
Or maybe I’m comparing myself to others, even though everyone says you shouldn’t do that because life moves at a different pace for everyone.
I know. I KNOW. I get all that. But that doesn’t mean we don’t compare. That doesn’t mean I don’t compare. It’s hard not to. Even if you shut yourself off from social media, you still know what people are up to.
And when you get to be 28, the comparisons are no longer about, “What did you get on the exam?” The comparisons are about life.
I can sit here and say it’s weird to see former classmates get married and have kids, but really, it shouldn’t be weird. Of course they’re doing that. They’re adults. They’re almost 30. So, good for them!
But then there’s me – feeling like I’ve been searching for a hot air balloon for the last few years and it’s nowhere to be found. All I should have to do is look up, see it, and let it carry me to where I want to be, but it’s not there.
Where the hell is my hot air balloon?
That’s an alternate title for this post, by the way.
And as I went through September, trying to find a purpose, I just felt overwhelmed by time. I felt like it had sped up on me, without warning. I felt betrayed by the calendar.
I felt trapped. Stuck. Buried beneath the days I’ve already lived.
Does anyone else just sit and recall random memories from their past that involve other people, and wonder if they remember those moments too?
I feel like I have a rolodex (kids definitely don’t use this) of memories that play in my mind like a screensaver. Whenever my mind goes stationary for five minutes, it takes over.
I’ve always had some sort of ESP, or premonitions, or whatever you want to call them. Lately, they’ve been quite strong? Busy? Active? Prevalent? Pick a word, any word.
A few weeks ago, I woke up with the thought that I needed to get my mom a new keychain. When I went to Ottawa in Grade 8, I got her a keychain with a Canadian flag and a moose on it that said, “#1 Mom”. I got one for myself that said, “Paul.” Cue the confetti cannon!
Sorry, did you forget I made reference to a confetti cannon at the start of this post?
Anyway, the letters on her keychain have been falling off one at a time for a while. This isn’t a recent thing, but I woke up that day thinking about needing to replace it as soon as possible.
Well, later that day, my sister (who was on vacation – it’s a global epidemic) sent me a picture of that keychain with my name on it and said, “Look what I found!”
She had no idea I had thought about that keychain that morning. I told her to buy the one that said, “#1 Mom”. She did. Bam. Keychain replaced in less than 24 hours.
Weird, right? Normal for me, though.
Want another story? Good because this blog post is off the rails.
Yesterday afternoon, I sang in my head, “I want something else, to get me through this semi-charmed kind of life.”
I don’t know why I was reciting the lyrics to, “Semi-Charmed Life” by Third Eye Blind. That song is not on any of my playlists. I don’t listen to it. I just have it lodged in my brain from the early 2000s. Outside of that, I have no connection to it.
Fast-forward to the evening and I’m watching an episode of The Good Place and doesn’t one of the characters start singing, “I want something else, to get me through this semi-charmed kind of life.”
Really. Can’t make this stuff up.
Sometimes I’ll pick up a book and read the next chapter without even thinking to myself, “I’m going to read now.” I just do it. And then something I read is something that could be applicable to my life at that moment.
Signs and hints and clues are everywhere around us, aren’t they?
Not to get all horoscopial (this isn’t a word) or spirituolo (neither is this) on you here, but whenever things like that happen, it makes me feel like someone is looking out for me and sending signals my way to say everything will be okay.
All I wanted to do in September was come on here and write about a bunch of things, but something kept holding the words back.
But, it’s not September anymore, so here they are.