Today is my birthday and I am happy. I always feel lucky on my birthday. For me, birthdays are a type of personal new years eve. I have the head space to look at what I like about myself. Most of the time I am not doing that. Most of the time I’m obsessed with the gap between where I am and what I think I should be. I think thats fine, but being able to enjoy what you are doing is the only reason to be alive. So today I’m happy.
I’m also happy because this birthday is very important. I am now older than my older brother Bradley. He passed 7 years ago at the age of 34. Somewhere deep in my mind I had built the boogey man that something would happen to me before or around my 34th. 34 was the buzzer going off.
Waking up today as a 35 year old I think I was right, but maybe not how I envisioned. When my brother died, I felt the only pure way to grieve him was to conquer in his memory. I remember writing a list of all the things he dreamed of that now he would never do, and i vowed to do my version of those things. I have kept that vow.
The men in my immediate family are remarkably different but the elements that we are comprised of are so strongly united. Men in my family are funny, independent, martial artists mostly, thinkers, survivors, teachers, musicians, and maybe a little vain but still interested in people.
I’ve taken the theme I inherited and I have contributed my own verse. I don’t want to say the last seven years have been one long shout out but in some ways they have.
Trying to reincarnate myself after my brother died. Feeling like I had to prove my ex wrong for the ways I fell short in her eyes. Feeling like I had to prove my Norwegian ex right for her faith in me, living with a narrative that I would become so shiny that whatever we had would reassemble like a locket, trying to draw the fractured pieces of my family back to me like my other brother and father. Theres a broadcast that has gone out of me to people I love, to people I miss, to people I wish would come back to me, to people who I deserve something from but will never receive, a few people I hate, and people I want to honor for the role they played in my life.
Living under power lines.
Today I wake up and I feel like the rest of my life is mine. I can’t impress these old moving targets and live the life I was made for. One has to die. You can’t serve god and mammon and you can’t serve your past and your future. One has to be put to bed.
This weekend I was at a wedding for an old friend of Bradley. It was beautiful day and I had the surreal experience to spend time with my brother’s closest friends. I say surreal because in this room, I am not Joseph, but Joseph, Bradley’s little brother. That never happens to me ever. All the spaces I occupy now are mine. I am no one’s anything. The wedding was fun just for that. I love being reminded of where I come from and the people that are apart of the narrative.
But I think finally at long last, I am my own man. I might die young like my sister and brother, or just maybe, I will cruise into old age full of late nights and adventure and a shitty back but a full memory card of beauty. I’m ok regardless. I will always be ok. I will make myself ok. I will walk to the end and do my best to be better than the previous me.