Had so much not been going on at the time, I may have thrown a pity party for myself. I didn't want to be selfish, but years of letting my mind go down perilous paths, I glanced toward the road of "if they really wanted to be with me on my 50th birthday, they would". I mean, Jeff and Raul snapped their fingers and drew a large crowd for his birthday last year. I guess I didn't have enough friends (or the right kind of friends) to be able to do that. Poor me.
No offense to those who were still planning to go. It would have been a great time, surrounded by a few friends and some of my family. But it honestly would not have been the birthday I originally wanted to celebrate. As it turns out, I got exactly what I wanted by staying right here in Kansas City! Our friend Jack suggested a joint birthday party for me and Gerald in the "nest" at 75th Street Brewery. It had been done before, but rather than plan nothing at all, I agreed to do it.
Little did I know it would be a catalyst for bringing all of my family together for the weekend. It was absolutely the best gift I could ever receive! Kate and her boyfriend, Pete, flew in Saturday morning and we spent the day with Michael and his mother. Mom, Dad, Jay (plus surprise guest Adrian) and the Siegels arrived that evening. Some experienced my debut as host for Downright Creepy's Remake/Rewind movie screening, but we all enjoyed brunch the next day and attended the party at 75th Street Brewery.
While that was all I could ask for my birthday, the icing on the cake (literally) was the theme for my 50th birthday. Take a look at this beautiful cake! While Barnabas Collins cried that he was turning 50, I cried in excitement as I opened my present. Everyone chipped in to buy something I would never buy for myself, but would nevertheless enjoy for my next 50 years: the complete Dark Shadows series on DVD; yeah, that awesome set of 131 discs that comes in a giant coffin.
So how do I feel about turning 50? Well, I feel like I've reached a true landmark, but not because of my age. Instead, it's because I am perhaps the happiest I've ever been. I've been with a loving partner for 14 years now (we celebrated our anniversary on the 19th) when I never conceived being with someone for more than 5 years! I adore my job and, for the first time I can remember, am not even thinking about a different one! (They seem to like me, too, and I feel truly appreciated. I didn't think that was supposed to happen at work.)
Further, I actually have an outlet for writing! The website has turned into more than a hobby for me and has given me great opportunities (for example, I'm going to Comic-Con again this year). My brother thinks it's fantastic that I have something other than work in my life that I honestly enjoy doing. I feel like I have more ahead of me and can go with it wherever I want. (Jay and Adrian think I should become a local horror host, but I want to write a book.)
I was telling people that by turning 50 I was only "halfway there". But that statement suggests that it's all downhill from there. I do not feel like I am 50 years of physical age, so who's to say I'm not even halfway there yet? No, I'm not as energetic as I have been in the past, nor is my mind the receptacle of memories that it used to be. But I do feel like the future is wide open and full of possibilities. In that sense, I've recently celebrated "just another birthday".
At the screening Saturday night, Tim announced to the audience that I was turning 50. At first, I wished he hadn't said my age. But afterwards, someone said, "You're not really 50, are you?" "No," I said, "Tim was just giving me a hard time." To which she replied, "I didn't think so. You don't look anything like 50." You know, the specific age doesn't really matter; it's the perspective on it. I remember more traumatic birthdays on my 30th and 40th. Maybe it's true that I'm not getting older; I'm getting better.
In any case, I can't wait to see what happens next...
With thanks to: Gene Owens, Karine Owens, Jill Siegel, Jeff Siegel, Brooklyn Siegel, Jay Owens, Adrian Castillo, Kate Owens, Pete Sahlberg, Michael Lendabarker, Mari Ann Lendabarker, Karen Hall, Jack Harris, Gerald Hughes, Jason Chaffee, Tim Canton, Eric Havens, Eric Kuhl, John Swan, Jeff Deutsch, Maria Leslie, Natalie Leroy, Cathy Weigel, and everyone who wished me a happy birthday on Facebook.