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I've told this story so many times now, that the memory of telling the story is stronger than the memory of the actual events. I'm sure I wouldn't have made it up, and I'm going to continue on with the assumption that if I said it, it must have been true. I'm a trustworthy guy, after all. When I was five years old, I remember having a thought. I had just recently celebrated my fifth birthday, and I hadn't quite started kindergarten yet. Somewhere in that window of a few weeks between my August birthday and a Labor Day school year beginning, I realized that life probably was not going to get any better. I could walk, talk, feed myself, use the toilet without much assistance, and I stayed home all day while my older sisters went off to school. I couldn't imagine a better time to be alive. Every birthday I've had since that day, I've struggled to convince myself that perhaps I was wrong. Certainly there should be advantages to aging, I'd say, trying desperately to believe it. Every successive (ironically implying success) birthday felt like a strong undertow, taking me to some unknown place I didn't want to go. New privileges are either ones I don't want (I never had much desire to smoke or to drink at a younger age), or they come with the strings, steel cables really, of increased responsibility attached. Congratulations, you can vote, your voice counts, so make sure you don't choose the wrong guy. Congratulations, you can drive, so make sure you don't push that giant metal box of power and danger off a cliff or into a phone pole or run it over a baby carriage. Each new year comes just when I feel like I've gotten the hang of the one I was on, starting to be a successful 10 year old, or 19 year old, etc. My eighteenth was a blow. Eighteen is so much older than seventeen. It hardly seems fair, really. Like being in a marching band just one step behind, and you can't seem to gain that extra step. Marching at full tilt is required just to not fall farther behind, and you think "if only they would all just Wait a second, I would find my place again, and we could all go together". But time marches on, as they say. Some time in the last four or five years I seem to have felt the creep of each birthday less, but it's still there, sometimes stronger than others. Perhaps the gifts and cake are to soften the blow, to help me forget. Perhaps I am altogether too young to be worried about aging, but it's happened since I was six. If five hadn't been so good, maybe I wouldn't have minded as much. This is not to say that I don't enjoy my life. The last twenty years since I was five have been very good to me also. If I play at being an artist, or philosopher, I can write the mistakes off as experience and the pain as a source of depth, empathy, and compassion for my fellow man. I don't feel as if they are meant to be consolation, like Lovely Parting Gifts and a Thank You for Coming On to Our Show, I don't feel that way at all. They are undeniably good and beautiful all on their own, and they need not apologize nor be compared to any other year. What it does mean, and you may find that this has not been worth reading at all at this point, which is entirely acceptable to me, is that I have bigger and smellier fish to fry every year. We all knew, as children, that our parents had eyes in the back of their heads, and super hearing, and could lift large objects, bigger even than us, and could reach things on the top shelf, and just seemed to Always Know What To Do. There was no telling what superhuman ability one of our parents might possess, and great joy was often taken in comparing the abilities of these titans of our households. I assumed that at some point between education and marriage, the grown-up fairy would come along and bonk me on the head, endowing me with this gifts and abilities. So far I can reach the top shelf in most instances, and lift medium sized objects, but that's about it. Things just don't get easier. Maybe if I didn't keep changing apartments every year, the grown-up fairy would be able to locate me a little faster. Some people would have given up all hope by now, but not me. There is one threshold of adulthood that I have yet to cross, and I have every confidence that when the time comes, all will be made clear to me. I am, of course, refering to parenthood. Think about it: The one thing all of our super-powered parents had in mind was not geography, ethnicity, or creed. It was that they are our parents. So perhaps a year or two down the road, you'll see me lifting large objects, solving problems that make wise men furrow their brows, and just generally being amazing. There is no telling what I might accomplish, on the other side of parenthood.

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