My 30th Speech

Earlier this year, I confided in Mitch that the older I get the more confusing the world becomes to me.  I doubt this feeling will ever lessen; instead of course it should grow stronger.  In fact I hope it does, because it is not always an unpleasant feeling.  At its most positive, it breeds in me a greater interest in the world, its people, and myself.  Lessons already learned do not, unless through new experiences, go unlearned via this phenomenon.  But new ones constantly and with more complexity present themselves.  When I look at my incredible grandparents – one of whom is not even blood related to me, but could regardless not be a better grandfather if he tried – I understand their continued zest for life, despite the fact they’ve both indulged in much more of it than the rest of us.  Life surprises us.  Sometimes painfully; sometimes pleasurably; other times terribly mundanely.  But it does.  Apparently, right up until the day we die.  And even, perhaps, in the very manner of our death.

30th cake

This year has in some ways been my worst.  My very willingness to remain alive dipped lower in this, the 29th year of my life, than it has before.  I’ve at times felt betrayed, rejected, scorned, ridiculed, neglected, humiliated, misunderstood and, worst of all, ignored, this year, more palpably than in any other year preceding it.  But, life surprises us, doesn’t it?  Finally, I found my way back into full-time work and am now busy rebuilding that grudging but crucial part of my life from the ashes of a shattered professional dream.  There’s also a beautiful, intelligent, humungous-hearted woman sitting at this table who, quite unexpectedly and only less than a couple of months before today, captured my battered but still strongly beating heart.  And, as always, there’s my small but spectacular family.  Whether spiritually, socially, politically, culturally, intellectually, or emotionally, I might be different from each of you in at least one way.  But in every way, I love you all, and the conviction that you feel the same way toward me gives me strength.

Just Dreaming 8

I’ve thought, at times, that by the age of 30 I should somehow have more of an idea of what the future might hold for me than I did at 15, or 20, or 25.  But while writing this speech I realised that that is an absurdity.  Life is unpredictable.  Every answer it gives us to every question we ask of it only leads to more questions.  Even long before I gained the epiphany I shared with Mitch, I knew that I would die having not read some books, not travelled to some places, not surfed some waves; not smelled some flowers, so to speak.  But the fact that I will always understand life less with each passing minute, hour, day and year gives me something to ever reach for that I never shall.  Everything lies in between these two extremes of unavoidably obscure beginnings and endings.  And first and foremost among them are you, the people seated with me today, whom I’m honoured to call my loved ones.  You, above all else and others, bind me to this world, make me better appreciate its pleasures, and guard me from its pain.  Thank you.

Now, and Then

By Loris Gordon

(Slightly edited by, and heavily related to despite gender and age differences, Word Journeyer.)

My ten-year high school reunion is coming up, and I’m riding some weird emotions.

When I found out someone (else) was organising it, I thought: “Awesome.”

Then, my mind filled with questions.  Who’s going?  Who’ll be married, have kids, turn out gay?  Who’s moved away and who’s stayed?

Then the questions deepened.  Who doesn’t want to go, and why?  Who will it be awkward to see?  How will I handle weird conversations with people I haven’t seen in a decade?  What are people going to say?  Will they think I could have done better when I tell them what I’ve been up to?  Will they instead be impressed?

I like to think I’m now a grown-up.  You know, a refined, sophisticated lady who occasionally wears perfume from a bottle and knows how to pick a good wine under $20.

However, back in my teenage high school days, I was tortured.  Pretty much every evil puberty could conjure was cast upon me: pimples, braces, glasses, greasy hair, too many opinions, too little height, too much puppy fat, and a mole that covered half my face*.  And to top it all off, I stank, no, reeked of desperation because I really, really wanted a boyfriend.  Not a specific boyfriend.  Just any boyfriend.  I wasn’t fussy.

But now the reunion’s on, it’s ten years later, and I’m in my 20s.  I’ve grown up and learned some stuff.  It wasn’t just me who suffered as a teen.  Most people look back on their teenage years as hell.  Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

No.

If you were ‘hot’ at high school or were otherwise ‘popular’, you’d look back on those years as some of the best of your life.  Is it like that for me?  No.

Just no.

Being a teenager who had it hard was like serving a sentence for a crime I didn’t commit while watching all the popular kids outside the big house living it up.

If you’re not sure which camp – popular, or not – you were in at high school, I’ll put it like this: if you stank like armpit; your uniform made you look like a brick shithouse; and you went to your formal with someone who only went with you because you asked him, his first two options cancelled on him, and you agreed to meet him there in a dark corner after which only a single photo was participated in because he felt sorry for your parents, then he disappeared; chances are your teenage years, like mine, were hard.

Loris

To us plebs, it looked as if all you cool kids had a pretty damn good time at school.  Your partying, sex, drugs, pranks, social exclusivity, and whatever other awesome shit you did and told your friends about loudly on the school bus come Monday morning made us mere, average teens feel jealous for the fact that we could only live vicariously through your stories and hardly experience them first-hand.

Of course, at the time, I never thought I’d ever experience such things as you cool kids.  But then ten years go by, in that weirdly unlikely manner of sliding sometimes uncontrollably and sometimes difficultly uphill that time has.  And during that time I’ve been all over, met all types, and experienced more shit – good and bad – than my tiny teenage mind could have possibly imagined.

In fact, to look in the mirror and compare between then and now, I look pretty alright considering I’m now in my late-20s.  I’ve also got a nice little career starting to crackle along, a good man by my side and, even though Facebook can be such a fake load of politically-correct, watered-down shit, there are more than a couple of memories in that passive-aggressive modern photo album of some really good times I’ve had.

And then I remember that my ten-year high school reunion is coming up, and I’m riding some weird emotions.

When I found out, I thought: “Awesome.”

*I didn’t really have a mole that covered half my face.