In addition to it being the release date of Fuzzy Nation and the start of my book tour, today also happens to be my birthday. I am now forty-two years old, which if you’re a science fiction geek is a fortuitous year, inasmuch as it’s the year of the number of the answer to life, the universe and everything. I regret to say that simply turning forty-two does not in fact give one particular insight into life, the universe and everything, or even (to the point here) give one particularly good questions with which to match with the answer. Maybe it takes a couple more hours to sink in. I will let you know.
I can say that forty-two finds me both happy and increasingly aware that time is passing. Happy because, well, life is good: I am married to a spectacular person. We have a child who continues to grow into a remarkable person. Our pets are fuzzy and amusing. We are financially comfortable and do not suffer want on any level. My career is going well. I am being of service to others. I get to do interesting things and know interesting people. I am healthy, as is my family.
Aware that time is passing, because, well, it is, mostly congenially, but with the occasional reminder that with time comes age. When I get back from my tour probably the first thing I’m going to have to do is make an eye appointment, because I’m doing that old person thing where you have to hold something out at a distance to read it; yes, presbyopia has come to the door and is asking is I want to read its literature (not too close). Bifocals, here I come. And have I told you about my arthritic hip? Come here, you whippersnapper, there’s no point shaking my cane at you if I can’t see you.
On the other hand, if the worst that the deprecations of age have thrown at me at 42 are slightly wonky eyeballs and a hip that I have to tweak impressively in order to get a twinge out of it, I’m doing fine. And in some ways I’m better off physically than I was at this same time last year: I’m about 25 pounds lighter, for one thing. So, eh. I have no reason to complain. So I’ll stop doing so right now.
The passage of time I notice in other ways. We have a new dog, to replace the old one who passed away. My daughter continues apace in her mission to be taller than me; at 12 she’s less than five inches away from her goal. I figure I have a couple of years left. The books — mine and the ones of my friends — continue to pile up agreeably. New and really impressive people keep showing up and being younger than me. This doesn’t make me feel old, exactly. It does remind me I’m not one of the new guys anymore. I’m all right with that.
And that’s pretty much my response to all of it: I’m all right with it. I’m enjoying seeing where I’m going in the world, and with my work, and with the people I get to share my life with. Birthdays remind me to make note of all of it.
So: It’s my birthday. I’m forty-two, and I’m happy. I hope you are too, on my birthday.