I’m two days from turning forty. I don’t quite know how I feel about it. Not terrible but certainly not great. Trying not to get maudlin or melodramatic. It occurred to me today that I can remember what I was doing exactly ten, twenty, and thirty years ago. Turning another decade older crystallizes things and causes them to stick in the memory, I guess. Thirty years ago I was in Maine with my family. My parents bought me a walkman for my birthday and two cassette tapes, both by the band Men at Work. We were out there visiting my uncle, who had bought an old schooner. My dad was helping him work on the boat. My uncle was staying in the guest house of this very rich family. He was friends with one of the sons, I think, and he was dating this friendly blonde woman who I got along with really well. One morning, she and I went out on the boat dock in front of the guest house and I jumped in the water. It was freezing and I instantly wanted to climb back out again but I stayed in and pretended I didn’t mind because I wanted to impress her. She laughed and I was very proud of myself and later that night, we had a cookout on the beach with clams and lobster. Twenty years ago, I was in Paris with a friend from college who was studying over there for a year. He wasn’t a close friend, just somebody in my social circle and he happened to be staying there, so we wound up together for a couple weeks while I was in town. One night we ended up at this incredible bar with a record player and a million jazz LPs on shelves behind the bar. We stayed there until dawn drinking and I kept requesting songs by my favorite artists—back then I was really into jazz—and they had every single one, or at least in my memory they had every single one. It’s all a little bleary. I distinctly remember requesting this one Eric Dolphy record that I still think is one of the greatest records ever made. It was called Fire Waltz but it was originally called The Quest and put out by a pianist named Mal Waldron. Dolphy was one of the backing musicians but it was reissued under Dolphy’s name later on because he was more famous. I only knew it as the latter version and the bartender was heady enough to find the original and set me right about its true origins. At one point in the night, probably early morning by then, my friend went out into the alley and puked and then came back and started drinking again and I was very impressed by this. Ten years ago, I was a really bad addict. I was spending hundreds of dollars a week on drugs and using morning, noon, and night and eating very little food besides ice cream, which I would usually puke up later on. Right around my thirtieth birthday, some friends helped me get me onto this drug called Suboxone. I remember I took it on the morning of my birthday and it instantly cured me of all cravings. It was like the last year and half of my life of constant drug use had never happened. That night, this friend of mine that I have always wished I could have married convinced me to invite as many people as I could think of to this bar and to my surprise a bunch of folks came out and at the end of the night I walked her to her car and we kissed goodnight. We’re still good friends now and she’s with this other guy that I’ve known a long time, too, and they’re happy together and all shacked up and he’s step-dad to her kids and whenever I get the slightest bit jealous, it goes away pretty quickly because they’re both obviously so happy and bringing anything negative into the situation just seems petty. The three of us are supposed to get together and drink mezcal this week to celebrate. I wasn’t going to do anything or tell anybody about my birthday but she texted me and suggested the idea.