Shit Together, Not Apart

‘I never liked my birthday. Ever since I was eleven. Maybe before … I never liked my birthday. The date is in that last week of August, which meant it usually fell in the last week of the summer holiday. So my birthday kinda meant the end of the summer holidays—which I loved… like they were the best times of my life, I reckon, when I was a kid—so my birthday was that … curtain call, I guess, on the summer holidays. I’d have my birthday and then the next day or whatever my mum would take us into town and we’d buy new school uniforms and stationery and that. I’d always think about returning to school on my birthday. I hated school. So, by default, I hated my birthday. I remember on my tenth birthday I got an annual for that Flinstones film and it was raining and I was outside in the rain1, playing, because it was my birthday and I had to play outside, no matter what, and the Flinstones annual got wet and I ended up having a fight with this neighbourhood kid and he swore at me and he ran away crying at the end of it and I shouted to his mum—‘Kim! Kim! Jonathan swore!’ … Christ. I hated birthdays. My brothers were both born in spring—April and May—and that’s much better.
    ‘When I was a kid, thirty-five seemed so old. Not old-old, but old. Like, I have very clear memories of my mum being thirty-seven. I dunno why that age stood out, but I remember my mum being thirty-seven and it was an age that stood out to me, and I remember her taking us to this… play-centre-kinda-thing in her blue Peugeot.
    ‘But thirty-five … I remember my parents being thirty-five, too, maybe that was the first time I remembered—or at least acknowledged—their age, because it stands out to me. I would’ve been … nine. I just remember them being thirty-five. It was the first time their age kinda hit my consciousness, you know? By nine, I guess I was thinking about my parents as people who had an age, who had had a life and weren’t always just my parents. Anyway, I remember them being thirty-five. Both my parents are the same age—well, my mum is one month older than my dad—exactly, one month … and as a kid I thought it was weird that my mum was older than my dad … is that weird? Thirty-five seemed like an old age, so much older than me, and back then it seemed like a lifetime away, but of course it wasn’t… It isn’t.

    ‘I saw this home video of my dad—I told you we were watching home videos the other week, right? My dad did these little graphic things, so it shows you the month and the year and all that, you know what I mean? His dad used to do the same thing back with the old 8mm and sheets of paper and shit. Anyway I was watching this video and it was when my dad was thirty-five, and my mum was thirty-five, too, yeah, but I was struck by the fact that my dad was thirty-five. And, watching it, I knew that I was going to turn thirty-five soon and it was so weird seeing him there being the same age as I am. I mean, I didn’t recognise him or his life in me or anything about me. You know what I mean? He may as well have been a different species … like, dog-years or something …
    ‘Nineteen-ninety-four, it was. I bought my first Spider-man comic in 1994. With my own money. Pocket money. I bought it in John Menzies after church one Sunday. I still remember the smell of that place. My dad got mistaken for Phil Mitchell in there once. Happened a lot.
    ‘I know that—between his generation and mine—so much has changed, but it was still so weird… He seemed to have his shit together. It looked like he had his shit together. I mean, I dunno what really goes on in my dad’s head—maybe he really is as chill as he makes out—but he seemed to have his shit together, you know what I mean? Like, he had a family—a wife, three kids—he had a house—a decent house, detached and shit—had a job he enjoyed, he had a dog—Morton was dead by then and we had Sparky… he was a little shit, but I loved him. But it seemed like he had his shit together… my dad, I mean... Not the dog. He shat everywhere.
    ‘Like I said to you before, I don’t want kids or marriage or any of that, but a long-term partner would be nice. It’d be a start. That’s not too much to ask, right?
    ‘… Maybe it is too much to ask. Certainly seems that way. But I thought when I was a kid that I would have my shit together by the time I was thirty-five. It seemed like a solid age when you would have your shit together. I wouldn’t be having these bullshit moods still, the same moods I’ve had since I was eleven. There wouldn’t be any of this bullshit adolescent misery! I should be enjoying the fruits of my teenage years and my twenties and all that shit. I should’ve come out on the other side with something to show for it. I thought that that would all happen, but it hasn’t. It’s just … odd to me. It’s kinda sad, too, probably. I can’t see a light at the end of the tunnel, either, which is really sad. But I guess it’ll get better. I mean, it has to, right? Good times always follow bad. Bad times always follow good… Thirty-six follows thirty-five. Fuck … thirty-five! … Thirty-five.’2

It rained on my birthday this year, too, although it ceased around 14:00 and the strong winds have carried on into the night. 
This photograph is actually just over a year old, from when I was thirty-three; please do not sue. Also, apologies for the terrible quality; the first roll to pass through my newly acquired Olympus XA was processed very poorly.