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Dates, etc.

Brief Seattle update – things seem okay. I’m at least somewhat used to it now, though I have yet to see a good number of things I thought I might have by now. All in good time, I suppose. But it’s living alone in a tiny box in the big city, so whether that’s a good thing or a bad one depends on the person. I have my days where I love it, I have my days where I miss the sprawl of California, and then most days are kind of in the middle. It’s still new enough that most things feel exciting, so I guess there’s that. At some point I’ll do a pro/con post, but that’s for some other day.

Today, I wanted to talk about dates and memories. I tend to be good at remembering specific dates, like birthdays, life events, and so on. I was talking with a coworker about a song last night, and it reminded me of a classmate for some reason. I’m not entirely sure why, perhaps we listened to it together in the past? But my brain associates the two, and after realizing that, I thought, “her birthday is February 4th.” This is a classmate I had from sixth to eighth grade and have not seen since the beginning of eight grade year, which would’ve been late 1990. Not only does this mean I am growing old, but it also means I can retain this knowledge that no one outside of this person’s family and circle of friends probably cares about. Heck, nowadays most people probably don’t remember unless some app tells them. But why do I remember this? Is this some sort of tool that I could harness and put to good use? What if I could remember something still related to numbers but more practical and useful to people? I’m not sure. I tried to look it up, but I got as far as, “what does it mean if” and before I could type the rest, the autocomplete matches were all medical conditions involving different colored bodily waste. This completely sidetracked my brain for a few minutes and I lost half of what I had wanted to write in here. Also if your poop is green, as far as I know, that’s a food coloring issue. I’ve had it happen with those fun Halloween-themed cereals.

Another thing with dates is how the same day can mean different things to people. For example, if you ask most people what happened on December 7, they will recall Pearl Harbor in 1942, since it has been both mourned and glorified every year since then. But for me, the first thing I think of is Tom Waits’ birthday in 1949. I wasn’t there, and have only been into his stuff for a decade or so, but that’s Tom Waits day to me. No disrespect intended to any veterans, mind you. It’s just the little bubble I’ve fashioned for myself to live in. April 1 isn’t April Fool’s Day, since that can be annoying anyway and I promised a friend years ago I would quit joking around after some really off-color work on an April Fool’s Day, but rather the day of the Ultimate Challenge at Wrestlemania VI. These days, I’m a bit ashamed of myself about having anything connected to wrestling, but that was a different time. Feels like a lifetime ago.

But birthdays in particular are always important to remember, for me. When I was little, the whole family would gather for birthdays, since everyone lived locally. In the case of mine/my mom’s/my dad’s birthday, both sides of the family would turn up. Maybe because they all made the time to show up and have well wishes and gifts and all, it made birthdays noteworthy to me? I’m not entirely sure. But I do like to acknowledge a person’s birthday when it happens. Sometimes it’s a bigger gesture if plans have been made in advance, other times it’s something as insignificant as a text message. It depends on the circumstances at the time, which could be distance or money or we’re both busy, etc. Sometimes you get a chance to catch up with them later and have a birthday thing a month from now or whatever, so the intent is still there.

Other times you’re out of contact for whatever reason, and in this case all I can do is think of them and hope that they’re well, that life is treating them fairly at the very least, and that the day goes smoothly. It’s a weird thing because I’ve done this for people that I’ve only ever known on the internet and never met in person. Some I’ve seen photos of, some I have not and only know as text on a screen. For whatever reason, part of my brain thinks, “this person could be a horrible monster who double parks and is rude to cashiers for all I know,” but they’ve presented themselves as a nice person on instagram or whichever service, so I choose to buy into that and hope for the best. Both for them as a person, and for their birthday.

Or sometimes I haven’t seen a person in years, wish them well in my mind every year on their birthday, then catch up with them years later and learn what is really true, which is that everyone has their ups and downs and sometimes those can be really severe. I caught up with an old friend from middle school maybe twelve or thirteen years after I had moved away. Still a calm and kind person, but had sold drugs professionally, robbed two different establishments, and survived an attempted murder before she decided to try and put her life back together. We have since fallen out of touch again, but the last I knew, she had the job she wanted and built a house to her exact specifications and was married and so on, so she was in a far better place, which is all you can really hope for anyone. Her birthday is April 5, by the way.

The only ones that feel totally strange to me, and I’m not sure why, are the birthdays of dead people I knew. A couple weeks from now is a friend’s birthday. She would’ve been thirty-five this year. She died when she was twenty-six, and died on my parents’ wedding anniversary. So I also tend to remember her death more than the wedding anniversary in recent years, and when I lived in California I would drive the two hours or whatever to go put a Heineken on her grave. I have a cousin who was born on June 29, but that’s the same day that another friend passed away from cancer at thirty-four. So maybe it isn’t always just birthdays that stick out, but that isn’t the weird part. What’s weird is that I still find myself going, “I hope they have a good day” despite their having been gone for some time now. I don’t really think there’s anything after you die, but more that you just die and that’s it, only people’s memories of you live on until they die or forget and then you’re 100% gone. Maybe it’s just because that’s they general birthday wish and so even if they’re gone, it’s just the brain’s go-to? It would be nice if there were some afterlife thing that happened, but if there were, wouldn’t it be awesome every day so a birthday wouldn’t matter? I don’t know. When I do know for sure, it will be too late to blog about it, too.

Anyway, I was thinking about all this just stemming from that song discussion I mentioned earlier, but also because today is an old friend’s birthday. We’ve been out of touch for quite some time now. A younger me used to be willing to lurk social media to see what people are up to, but that desire left me some ways back, so I have no idea how this person is doing or where life has taken her. But I always thought highly of her and her family, so I do hope that they’re all in good places and happy. It’s a bit different to just vaguely post about a person’s birthday when it was much more involved in years past, but life takes us all to different places and this is where we are now. She would often mention that people grow apart and I suppose it is true, but I still like to remember those fun times fondly. So, wherever you are out there, I hope your birthday is nice and that life treats you kindly.

Categories: Misc.
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