I turned thirty-two a few days ago. I note this not to garner presents or attention (because I really crave neither, although I wouldn't refuse them, mind you) but to note the fact. Thirty two, statistically speaking, means I am now exactly halfway through my expected lifespan. One foot is now in the cradle, and the other in the grave.... or for the less dramatic, neither foot in either one. Eh.
I have a habit of looking back at the previous year around every birthday, and since one of my presents was a nifty electronic picture frame, neatly fixing the problem I've always had with frames (only one picture in the frame sucks) I've been doing more looking back than usual lately. Combined with the sudden re-emergence (if only electronically) of my high school friends, it's been a real trip of self-examination lately. Yeah, I know, I probably do that too much anyhow, but this is as much reflection as examination. I've come to the following conclusions, based on pictures, conversations with high school friends, and general rumination:
1) I've become a lot better person than I used to be, but improving does not mean I grew up. I consider this a good thing.
2) I've been overweight for a lot longer than I care to reflect upon, and done little to change it. I consider this a bad thing.
3) Despite the intensely abnormal nature of my childhood, I have established myself in a surprisingly normal life. I was mildly uneasy about this, but I console myself with the fact that my normal life is about as skewed as a normal life can be before marching off into the realms of, as Dan puts it, "drug fiends, polyamorists, transexuals, and guys who dress like Dr.Who all the time." That's a pretty cool place to be, I suppose.... even if I wonder about the field I'm competing in, there.
So the kid is now 13 weeks away. Two school terms. Less than one full season. Three months to live? I'm not sure I see it that way anymore. I've discovered that every major goalpost in my life so far has been as dramatic as I've caused it to be. High school graduation, college arrival, college graduation, my first teaching position (the first kid I ever had in my classroom, a moment I expected to be a lifechanging experience, turned out to be in the wrong room, turned around and left - a lesson I've heeded well), my engagement, and my marriage. Now don't get me wrong - I'm not saying they weren't fulfilling, that I wasn't deeply moved, and so on. My life was only so changed as I desired it to be, though, and my existence wasn't completely rewritten. Jesse before engagement was the same guy as afterwards - I had always been genuine to Amy, and I had nothing new to show. Jesse before marriage was the same guy as afterwards - I had no reason to treat Amy differently, and again, my existence, thinking, and living was unchanged. I still get her flowers for no reason, I still fart under the covers, and I still thank her for every meal. A metal band and a rock changes nothing you don't wish it to.
Despite the drama-filled predictions of others, I'm not convinced this next phase will change the person. Jesse the father, if he's been living right, will already BE the role model his child deserves. He won't have to change his behavior, won't have to mind his actions, won't have to come up with explanations for "do as I say, not as I do." Unless I've lived a hypocritical life, I am already the father I should be. (Whether that's a good thing is another entirely different issue. HEH!) Maybe that's the difference - I don't see my life changing because I am that which I wish to be; the role model to my students I would be to my own child. That probably sounds arrogant, but I think the people who know me best will understand. I got hooked on the idea of the knight in shining armor when I was a kid, and - when it really matters - I've always stuck to that ideal.
So yeah. Maybe not three months to live...but three months to life. Not a new life for me, not a new way of living (life is adjusting to change, people, if you're doing it right) but three months until a new life, a third life, a Fletcher 2.0 life.
That's still a scary thought, but for a whole different set of reasons.
Normally I'd sign out here, but I have a small confession to make - I fibbed a little at the start. I've been meaning to write another blog, but I've been avoiding it like mad because the subject makes me a bit leery. I'm a very, very big follower of the ideology of "Keep your religion and your politics private" - but I suspect I won't be the only dad-to-be who lives in Texas and knows that his religious views differ from the vast majority of the native population. So right now I'm torn on the subject, and it's been keeping me off the blogger. I'm fully aware of the fact that I have coworkers who read this thing, and I'd rather avoid the risk of being treated differently for my politics or my religious beliefs. Don't know that it would happen - betting not - but I've heard of careers being shot down for dumber reasons, and well, the ambition bone is starting to twinge again, and I think the classroom and I may part ways within the next three years or so, if I have my way.
So I'm still weighing that subject, just as I'm turning over my thoughts on teaching religion to my kid, and wondering if I should really air them or not. I'd like to believe this country is one where all views can be respected, but while we all talk the talk, I'm not sure we all walk the walk.
And the wife's home, and I've got nothing else to say, so....