Ahh, another year has passed. Seems I’m standing athwart an avalanche of years these days — or an avalanche of days these years. Whichever works for you.
This birthday seems like it’s going to be a good one. I just launched my first novel to some very strong reviews (stronger than I expected). I’m happy to see it’s hitting the right notes with readers. In the argot of our times, people are like “whaa????”, then they’re like “nahhhhh!!!”, then they’re like “ohhhh. . . “, then they’re like “hmmmm. . . ” This is the sequence I had imagined all those years ago when the story first came to me–though I might have been better-spoken back then. I’ve regressed a bit in some ways.
I’m not looking at my book sales anytime soon. I know that at this stage, knowing my sales numbers is either going to excite me beyond all reason or depress and disturb me. I’ll save those for later: Today’s my birthday.
Anyway, I still have a party to put on to celebrate the launch! You’re invited.
I can remember some good birthdays in the past and some that were kinda lame. A few others were downright hideous.
The good ones: Getting my first bike at the age of seven.
We were living in the motorhome back then and had been parking it in the lot of a K-Mart in El Toro, California most days. That was our front yard. We lived at K-Mart.
I had become fixated on bicycles about a year before. I had bicycles on the brain. My eyes had come to resemble two spinning, spoked wheels; my hair like plastic handlebar streamers. When I spoke, it sounded like the plaintive honk of a bulb horn.
So on my actual birthday my dad actually walked with me into the K-Mart that was our front yard and made the purchase of two items. The first was a half of one of their awful plastic-wrapped sub sandwiches with the onions and stale bread I can still taste. The second: A brand-new made-in-Taiwan 20″ banana-seat bike in white with red flames and chrome fenders.
“THIS IS THE HAPPIEST DAY OF MY LIFE!” shouted in the line at the cashier’s. A woman behind us smiled and said something to my dad about how happy I looked. I really was happy. It probably was the happiest day of my life, actually. Up until that point, at least.
And so the journey on two wheels began that day — after I had crashed out on that brand-new K-Pro Schwinn knock-off at least a five or six times. I learned to ride it that day, by God. And the next day I started riding it down staircases. Kinda. Or trying to, at least.
Another good birthday:
I was 34.
I suppose you’ve heard of thing called the “Mile-High Club,” right? Well, there’s also a “Stretch Limo Eastbound on I-10 Club.”
I think that’s about as far as I need to go with that one. Alcohol might have been involved. Few other things as well. Times were good. Probably too good. In some ways.
Then there were plenty of birthdays I just don’t care to remember. I was sick or sad or had fallen into myself or felt alone enough with whomever I was supposed to be together with that I just wanted to be alone with myself for real.
I think that made sense. Read it again.
But I’ve gotten better now. Rent’s paid, kid is feeling better, I’m getting a haircut at noon, Diamond-T might be distributed to Barnes and Noble in softcover, and life is good.
It’s my birthday. I’m gonna have a good time.