37 and counting…

Note: I posted this on the MySpace blog after my birthday in September. But I figure I’m even more 37 now than I was then, so it still has relevance.

I’ve always been anniversary milestone minded. You know, “It was a year ago today that Svetlana and I…” and so forth. Since I don’t actually know anybody named Svetlana that example was purely for illustrative purposes, but you get the point. This past Friday I turned 37, so besides being mildly in shock that my life is now 10% over (hey, who are you to say that I won’t live to 370?) I’ve taken the opportunity to review what I was doing around the time of my birthday 20, 10, 5 and one years ago.

20 years ago: September 1987. I was a senior in high school in Castroville, California. I had never had a drink. Or kissed a girl. I’ve since sworn off one of those, but I retain high hopes for the other. Speaking of the second, I was meeting or about to meet my first girlfriend, Genelle. Which was very sweet. Everything was sweet and innocent then, but also limited. I was subject to teenage depression, so worried about not being popular, and I yearned to get out of the minimum-security prison of high school and move on to somewhere, anywhere, where life was happening. Flash forward to…

10 years ago: September 1997. I wanted life. I got it! I had just gotten married in San Diego, California. We got married on a boat in the harbor, which was great. We got married to each other, which was, in retrospect, a little ill advised. She and I had been together for five years, having met at Berkeley, lived in Japan and traveled all over Asia together before settling in San Diego for graduate school. There was a lot of love, but I think fundamentally we just didn’t fit each other. For my part I was too young and had too many parts of my life shut down to really understand that. I was supposed to be writing and creating but instead I had just finished graduate school in business and was working for an international trading company. In a big, white, conservative, relentlessly pleasant city, which was not at all suitable for an expatriate Northern Californian like myself.

5 years ago: September 2002. Finally in San Francisco, where I had wanted to live my whole life! And separated from my wife for about six months, on our way to divorce. Our life together had gotten progressively harder since moving to San Francisco in 1999, and she finally had the sense to tell me she was leaving and move out. Six months later I was about to start post-separation dating. This was really my first dating in a decade. Or ever, when you consider that I never dated in high school, and barely did in college. I won’t out the young lady involved except to say that she is the coolest damn lawyer ever, and it was a great reminder that life could go on and be fun post decade-long relationship. I had returned to writing and had begun the first notes on the novel that is now, seven drafts later, out seeking a literary agent. Finally, I had started working a few months before at PlanetOut, which was extremely welcome after spending a year unemployed in the midst of the dot-bust. I stayed there for almost four years, which was great because gay people rule! So says this token straight boy…

1 year ago: September 2006. I had just started working at the Exploratorium, which was great because geeky science education people rule! The non-profit world also had a lot more human work schedule than PlanetOut had in its post-IPO frenzy. I was working on getting my writing published in various venues while drafting a query letter for the novel to send out to literary agents. On the relationship front, I had taken a break from dating, which I’m still in today; except that now I think it’s just about at an end. Most important of all, I was nearing the end of three years of bottoming out on drinking and other things that had made my life increasingly unmanageable.

And there you have it. My life now is actually a lot like it was a year ago, except that having bottomed out and surrendered everything is easier. I’m very grateful to be here now and excited to see what 37 will bring.

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