Monday, November 22, 2010

On Turning 28

Twenty-eight years ago I forced my way into the world. I don't remember my entrance, but if you ask my mom, she can tell you it was a long and hard journey. While I may not remember those first few moments of my life, I do have a pretty good memory and always have. It's probably what has helped me be the writer I am.

From my first few years it is only flashes, but there are many. I remember the first house I lived in, even though we moved to a different one when I was four. I remember falling behind the bed in that house and being terrified. I remember this old lady from church babysitting me and my older sister and how she was eating KFC. I remember the carpet in that house and the Christmas someone stole decorations from our yard. It's all little glimpses.

The memories then get more solid. There are scenes I can run through my head at any moment. My parents telling me, at nine, that my grandmother had died. My first school play. The day my dog got hit by a car because the neighbor boy let him out the door. The day I learned to ride my bike and got my picture in the local newspaper. My sister's wedding. Getting my learner's permit and my dad teaching me to drive. My first car (an '86 Buick). My first car accident. My high school graduation. Leaving for college. It goes on and on.

Then there are all those moments I never felt right or that I belonged anywhere, and then the moment I finally admitted I was gay, which opened up a whole new world. Then there's the first time I met Dustin. Our first kiss. The first time we had sex. Our first fight. Our first gay club. Our first pride event. Our first gay cruise. So many firsts.

My memory is good, but I've also realized that the older you get the more you have to remember. Twenty-eight is not old, but it has made me think a lot about life and what has happened and what will happen. I've been a bit down the last few weeks due to this approaching birthday. It is not so much the number that bothers me, but that not everything is how I want it right now. See, I'm a perfectionist about where my life should be. I've always had a very direct plan and the last two and a half years haven't gone as planned. I'm still desperately unhappy with my job, and while I have so many other great things, my job weighs heavy on me. I've never been the person who wants to just do a job. Your job takes too much of your time to not be something that you love, yet the economy and basic facts of life have made it difficult to get a job I love right now. I know, I know, I'm young and I have time. I've heard it all before, but I also know that's how people get too comfortable with things they don't like, and I refuse to get comfortable.

I have high hopes for twenty-eight. My plan includes finding a new job no matter what. This year will also see more publications by me. I have quite a few coming out in the first few months of 2011, and my first book, The Hanky Code, which I co-wrote with Bryan Borland, should be out before my next birthday.

I've actually had a really great birthday already. I've been celebrating since Friday and have more fun planned tonight with friends. I know in many, many ways I'm very lucky. I'm lucky to be healthy, to have a strong passion for writing and the strength to put it all out there, and lucky to have an amazing partner who continues to grow with me and support my craziness at every turn. I've also gained some wonderful friendships in the last year. It is amazing to be supported and loved by a great group of people. I'm also very lucky to have a gay community that makes me feel like I belong. This last one is often what keeps me going, and I know, because I've lived in some pretty conservative places, this is not the experience lots of people have. For that I am thankful.

For anyone who shares my birthday, may it be a great day! Here's to the next year!

-Stephen (28)


  1. Glad you are able to celebrate you! I am dreading turning 28 next week for similar reasons, but you are right about memories. I need to write more poems based on things I remember.

    Hope the celebrating continues & exciting things coming up for you!

  2. I can understand the part about being a perfectionist and holding yourself to a high standard (I always joke that I have to be hard on myself because no one else will!). Unfortunately, it really is true what they say, you have to be patient and good things will come.

    I've been looking for a full time teaching position myself and it's really not easy in the job market right now. But Stephen, you are a talented and capable person and the right job will be there.