They reckon that turning 18 is a milestone. They believe that hitting 21 is another. Stumbling over 30 years is meant to be the beginning of the end. But I have just hit the weirdest age of them all – 35.Thirty five years old…my God. I don’t want to sound like a boring old twat, but where did the years go? I still feel like my teen years are just behind me. I still act as though my twenties are still to be lived. But I am now closer to my forties than any other decade. I have reached middle age territory. I have lived for more years than Jesus did. Or Kurt Cobain. Or Jim Morrison. I am past half way towards 70 and as a man, my physical prime is gone. All I have now is in my mind. All I have now is a belly that swells and hair that commits suicide. I have power naps and bags under my eyes. I prefer staying in to going out. I like low music instead of loud.
What happens as you age? How do your tastes change so much? I remember my 21st birthday party. Myself and two close friends hired out the dingy upstairs function room of the Parnell Mooney in Dublin’s north inner city. There were no parents, no cake and no kids. There was cheap beer, a crap music system and plenty of narcotics. It was a low life blast which carried on back in Bom Bom’s apartment on Dorset Street…further out in Dublins north Inner city. We had the decks set up and we returned to consume shed loads of drugs and run the proverbial amok. The party was even graced by a known Inner City Gangster who was shot dead in the back of the head some 3 days later. There was plenty of dancing in corners, shouting like monkeys and splaying on couches and beds, talking shite and ear chewing. Oh and there was gargle. Truck loads of it. Until we would run out and the morning would come and the early house was hit. And we carried on and on. And we loved it. We were a pack of 10 to 20 back then. Everyone knowing everyone and meeting up and following everyone else wherever they went. They were good times.
Fast forward fourteen years. I have a late brekkie on my own as the wife is away. I head down to Bondi and go for a surf. When I say go for a surf, I mean get dumped in the water, shouted at by the regulars to “Get out of the Faaaking way” and bob on the gentle waves hoping I don’t get munched by a passing great white. I get home and head over to meet up with Fran the man and we go to the gym – two pumped up jocks bench pressing and squatting. I then head to the Casino and play poker for a few hours…winning a tidy amount which makes up for a shit month or two online. I get home and watch some Sopranos episodes, check my wall on facebook to see who has messaged me, and hit the hay…tired and satisfied. I doze off to sleep and remark to myself that getting old really isn’t so bad after all. There is a heavy change in how I do things. There is huge difference between old Lenny and new Lenny. But the only constant in life is change as Aristotle once remarked.
I don’t envy the past. The hangovers, the brain warping, the 3 and 4 day benders celebrating my birthday, your anniversary, his dole day or her period. No excuse was necessary and none needed to go on the rip. Drink and drugs flowed like drink and drugs metaphorically flow. Youth gobbled up excess, hours and years and spent them on fleeting moments of majestic happiness and mirth. Nothing was wasted on permanence and vagary was the order of the day. I like to think that I would have changed no matter whether I gave up the drink or not. I would like to think that when I was 21, my mid thirties would be a blip in the future when being employed and married and plotting nippers was what I should be doing. But I can’t remember what I thought back then. The brain is too soft and out of focus. The years they have it dimmed. I’m pretty sure I turned out as I imagined I would. But at the end of the day, it doesn’t change a thing. We dream of tomorrow, live for today and learn from yesterday.