Wednesday night, in a barely-marked bar that predates the speakeasy trend, I told a story about turning 16.
We were discussing the frequency of birthdays—how the day before mine is the most common in the country—and I was reminded of that day, when the clustering seemed especially noteworthy. She was amazed I remembered that day, and more memories of that weekend flowed: Of the big Magic tournament, of conversations with suddenly-wealthy artists, of a stranger coming to me with a one-of-a-kind card, of nearly having to kick a guy out.
But while she was surprised I could remember all those details, it was a different realization, earlier in the conversation, that struck me. I was hours away from having all that be half a lifetime ago.
Friday night, in a corner room of a different bar, I hosted a dozen or so friends, in celebration of the arbitrary milestone that had passed the day before. Thirty-two means nothing to me; 35.8333 is the next age that matters. But, having skipped my annual rooftop party due to this summer’s crazy pace, I felt an obligation to do something.
As I chatted with a few in attendance about a friend who wasn’t, I told the story of our meeting, a twisty tale that involves as many social websites and illness-induced cancellations as it did actual dates. After a month of trying to meet on purpose, we met somewhat by chance, and spent the entirety of a Throw Me the Statue set chatting in the balcony of the music venue, as though we were already the old friends we are now, six years later.
A year later, I’d see the band again at a different show, one I attended in part because I felt guilty about having barely listened at the first, despite enjoying their album. That evening, I was even more egregious, my attention wholly beside me instead of in front. And I suppose that’s fine. Five years later, everything about that night has long since passed into the ether or will do so soon, except the space where it happened.
“Oh world, it’s you that turns us old,” Throw Me the Statue’s Scott Reitherman sings, and another Scott feels it.