Google Calculator tells me that this weekend will mark around 10,950 days in which Antoine Sirrelle Starks has been a thing. Which to me, it feels as if there has been that many days in 2019 alone.
When it comes to my birthday, every year I put on this flagrantly horrendous acting job in which I pretend that I don’t care much about it. I’m not sure who I have ever fooled with this, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was no one.
This year is different. It means something. In fact, this particular birthday gained significance about two years ago when I came across my father’s death certificate and discovered he was only 29 when he died—he had his entire life ahead of him. I’d never realized that. To be honest, I’d never really given it much thought. He was my dad, and all dads are old. At least, that’s what I thought at seven.
For me, 30 became monumental: I wanted to see and live the life my father didn’t.
As November 16th has crept closer, people have asked me am I nervous. I don’t look to 30 with a daunting, glass half-empty outlook. I not only anticipate my glass of 30’s to be half-full, but to fucking overflow.
Ahead of this weekend’s celebrations, my friends and my mom (and my mom, again—and again) have asked me about themes. Dirty 30, bar crawls, essentially stopping just shy of last hurrah! I think I’ll pass.
I’ve opted for a turn-up, yes, but nothing much out of our norm: Italian dinner for the borderline-broke bourgeoisie, followed by hidden Yelp gems we quietly think we made cool.
Like everyone, I’ve seen the 30th birthday celebrations on social media, where the theme, to me, carries a sort of “it’s all downhill from here” undertone more than anything else; and personally, I don’t want day one of year 30 to be ignited by an outlandish theme that subtly hints at the beginning of the end. Because, for me, the fun isn’t ending, it’s just getting started.
Several years ago, my childhood best friend, from Detroit, was shot in the face at point-blank range. For the rest of his life, he’ll function, at best, at half-capacity. My own father, again, never saw the age of 30. And just last week, a hometown legend, former Michigan State and NFL wide receiver Charles Rogers, died at 38.
I read in a journal article, a few years ago, that stated Black men have a “substantially lower life expectancy” than most other groups. So it isn’t lost on me, that as an African-American male, life from the beginning is living on borrowed time–playing with house money, in a sense. And because of that, I find myself, perhaps a bit more than I should, rolling the dice.
I often tell my best friend, Sam, that my biggest fear in life is one day lying there, taking my last breaths, and I think of all the things I never got to do or see in life. Whenever that time comes, I want that list to be as short as possible. And that’s how I’ve chosen to live my life.
Over the last three decades, I’ve chased a lot of things in life: dreams, liquor, and women who gave me goosebumps. These days, I can admit that I’ve become a bit more of the “runnee” than the runner, in a couple of those categories; but one thing I’ll never stop chasing at 30, nor 80, is the thrill in life. And I hope you don’t either.
Happy Birthday To Me.