Some of my fondest memories from my childhood were Saturday nights when my family would order Pizza Hut Pizza, because my dad liked a pan pizza supreme (yuck!) and we would watch Star Trek the Next Generation together as a family. Geordi Laforge was always my favorite. He was the engineer who usually figured out how to use science to do everything that had to be done each episode to save the Galaxy!
I am the oldest of 4 children. I have a brother Brian and 2 sisters, Stephanie and Jaclyn.
We grew up together in 2 bedrooms. The boys room in blue, and the girls room in pink. As I said in my parents post, we had perfect balance and symmetry as a family. Well not quite symmetry. It went boy, boy, girl, girl, not girl, boy, boy, girl (like on the Fresh Prince of Bel Air) but you get the idea.
I am about 3 and a half years older than my brother which I think is just about the worst gap you can have. We were never really in the same phase of life growing up, but we were close enough that we always were expected to play together. And then Brian and Stephanie were about 2 and a half years apart, which is closer to what psychology says is ideal for development between too stage-separate and too competitively close. Then my baby sister Jaly was again about 4 years younger that Stephanie which was just bad because there is clearly an age and maturity difference great enough to cause major problems but it is not significant enough of a gap that the older sibling can be viewed as a parentified authority.
But we all survived and have remained on good terms. At this point in time we are all living in the same town again for the first time since I was in high school. As a guy who hasn’t made a whole lot of new friends as an adult, and has lost touch with most of my friends from childhood, I am very blessed to have had 3 siblings that have always been there for me.
So I am going to break them down briefly one by one. Starting with my sister Stephanie, because as a middle child she deserves Top billing every once in a while.
I had Will Smith in the original aborted 30 for 30. At the time I said I was referring more to the character he played in the Fresh Prince of Bel Air tv show more-so than Willard Smith the actor (yeah that's right Willard is his real name). That all holds up. Everything I said about making every personal interaction with others a free performance is a lesson I wish I paid more attention to today. It's very "carpe diem," and "you never know how much time you have with the ones you love. " Both are sentiments that absolutely saturate the lead up to a 40th Birthday.
Thus far in the countdown it has been pretty straight forward to reminisce, recall fond memories, tell some less than flattering stories about people I haven't seen in 20 years , express some regret that ultimately dissipates "in the grand scheme of things," and let my inferiority complex run rampant as I state the qualities of individuals I aspire to, but will never equal.
That formula doesn't strike the right tone for people with whom I have regular contact and share DNA. And at this point I am down to my nuclear family. Begrudging admiration for a no-nonsense teacher or a tough-as-nails coach seems appropriate. It is not the sentiment I want to engender towards my family. Gratitude is.
Aging and birthdays walk hand in hand with reflection, and reflection can spur regret. But that isn't really the sentiment I want to convey either. Also as the day approaches, I am counting the days and feeling older. That makes for a more somber attitude than the glory day reminiscing earlier in the countdown when my birthday was still months away.
When it comes to my family, I have few if any regrets. I have no complaints. I feel blessed beyond measure. But when I do sit back and look at my family, I do have this strong feeling of just "wishing things were different." I find myself raging against reality as I try to write this. The aspect of my life that I cherish most is my family, and that means it's also the place I have had the highest hopes and expectations. This birthday, as all birthdays ultimately do, forces me to accept life for what it is, not what I want it to be. And nowhere is that more apparent than with my dad.