I want to make this pretty brief because I don’t want to spend 2 hours writing a post like I do every other time :). Yesterday was my 29th birthday and I wanted to thank everyone who left me a message on FB or texted me. I took the day off from playing and spent it down the shore with Jody and the girls, my mom, my sister Emilee (who’s 14th birthday is today, Happy Birthday Em!!), my sister Trinna and my nephew Jordan. We went to the beach for a bit, ate my favorite pizza in the world (Mack & Manco’s, don’t care if they changed their name.. still calling it that), hung out by the pool for a bit and then went to one of my favorite Hibachi places (Sakura in Mays Landing) for dinner. We stopped at Jody’s brothers house on the way home and I got to see my other nephew Cole and niece Bella. Overall, it was the perfect birthday. Jody’s birthday is tomorrow so we will continue the celebrations all weekend.
I thought it would be interesting to briefly take a look back over my 29 years and see where I was and what my life was like during that time. I kind of did this a little bit in my life timeline that I did, but I figured my birthday was an appropriate time to think about it more. I’m going to start age four and go from there so I can go in five year increments.
4 year old me (1987): I lived in Deptford, in an almost entirely white, lower middle class neighborhood with my Mom, Dad and 2 year old sister. I obviously had very few responsibilities or worries as a 4 year old. My friends were the kids from around my neighborhood, all of whom I currently have little to no contact with.
9 year old me (1992): Just 11 days before my birthday, we moved into a house in Deptford on the other side of the town. This neighborhood was on the upper middle class side of things and at the time I believe the homes were on the more expensive side of those available in Deptford. The neighborhood was very much a melting pot with several Black and Asian families. We played outside in the street all of the time; kickball, basketball, football in my back yard and tons of other random games. I remember one of the kids asking me one day if I was prejudiced and I had no idea what he was talking about. My responsibilities and priorities mostly involved playing sports, going to school and watching out for my little sister. I wanted to be a professional baseball player when I grew up. My friends were the neighborhood kids a few of whom I still have some sort of contact even if it’s just being facebook friends with them.
14 year old me (1997): This was a super interesting time to look back on. My parents had divorced a few years before and we were forced to sell our house. We were supposed to move into a brand new house but that fell through and we were left without a place to live for several weeks. Eventually, we moved into a house just a few minutes down the road, where my Mom and little sister still live. I was getting ready to go to High School and I was still playing baseball. My closest friends still lived just a bike ride away so I was still able to hang out with them a lot. I talk to a few of them occasionally still but others I haven’t heard from in a while or live across the country. I think at this time I began to learn that I could kinda do whatever I wanted as long as I didn’t cross a certain line and I got everything done that I needed to get done. My priorities might have been a little out of whack at this time but I always made sure to take care of any responsibilities I had including doing well in school. Just a few months later I would find out that I was going to have another sibling.
19 year old me (2002): Wow, it is crazy to think about the difference between being a 14 year old and being a 19 year old. I had just finished my freshman year of college at Rutgers and was living at home for the summer but commuting up to New Brunswick during the week to work at RU-INFO. At the very beginning of summer I broke my foot playing basketball so I spent the entire summer with a cast on my leg. I was much more independent and self sufficient after spending the year on my own at college. My priorities probably involved being under the influence and having a good time.I probably made tons of bad decisions at this time but I was fortunate to never get in trouble. During that first year of college, I feel like I learned a lot about how different people think in different ways. My friends included the group of people I met that first year in college and my best friends from my high school years. Most of these people are my closest friends still or I have some sort of contact with them.
24 year old me (2007): After spending several years kinda floating out on my own and doing whatever I wanted with no structure, Jody and I began dating. I remember my birthday well because I spent it at Borgata drinking Coronas and playing poker while Jody was working. A month prior, we had moved into an apartment in Brigantine together. I had been playing poker for a living for 2.5 years by this point but I was still playing mostly 1/2nl at Borgata. I was making a modest amount of money and we were doing our best to get by. Just a few weeks later I would propose to Jody and 14 months later I would become a father. It was really at this time that my priorities and responsibilities began to drastically change. My friends were mostly the same as 5 years before but also now included a lot of people from AC, a few of whom I still talk to a decent amount. I also had a few friends that I met through poker that I still am very good friends with.
Time seems to go by so fast now. Every night before I go to sleep I think about how fast that day just went by. I look at how big my little girls are getting and hear all the time to cherish these days because they will be teenagers before I know it. I can’t wait to see what they are like when they get older but I can’t help but wish they would just stay this age for a little longer. I guess all I can do is smile and appreciate every experience I get to have with them throughout the years.
Reflecting back on all of these times makes me think about how much my life has really changed throughout my 29 years. My physical location, mental thought processes, my friends, my responsibilities, my job status, and my priorities have been constantly changing up to this point in my life. It feels like over the past few years and going forward that many of these things will begin to remain constant. I think that I certainly can still grow mentally and the way that I currently think will most likely change a bit as I get older but I feel like I’ve reached a point where being “settled down” is really starting to become what my life is about.When I say “settled down” I mean it in the sense that I am committed to a job, a house, a wife and kids and the fact that I’m mentally aware and accepting of the responsibility I have to make sure I take care of all of them. There is nothing wrong with this at all and I completely embrace it. Due to the nature of my job, it is difficult for us to really have any kind of a normal life though and that is what makes this life that Jody and I have built so awesome. We know what we need to do to make it work but we are also able to make changes occasionally when improvements are needed in certain areas. I really enjoy looking back and seeing the effect of the environments I’ve been in and the experiences I’ve had. I can say without a doubt that I’ve never been happier in my life and I look forward to seeing what it will look like to be 34 year old me, 39 year old me and so on.
I ended up spending two hours on this anyway.. damn it!
Hope everyone has a great weekend!