The day I turned 30, I thought I was dying. Literally. I woke up after a hard night of drinking, starting brushing my teeth and saw that my entire mouth had turned black. It was as if I was rotting with age from the inside out. I screamed. My wife laughed at me. Turns out it was a chemical reaction from mixing chewable Pepto-Bismol and hard liquor, but it played into my over-developed fear of aging. I met every birthday in my late 20s and 30s with trepidation and angst. I’ve relaxed a bit after having kids; I barely even noticed my 40th birthday last summer. It passed by in a haze of road bikes, ping pong and cheap beer.
But today I’m turning 41, which for whatever reason, sounds so much more serious than 40. I’m no longer 40, I’m in my 40s. I believe that’s what some cultures refer to as “middle aged.” Fuck. I’m middle aged. I still think of my dad as middle aged.
Normally, whenever I feel mortality creeping in, I counter those thoughts by undertaking a hair-brained, poorly-planned adventure. Running a marathon. Learning how to climb trad. A multi-day bike-packing trip or a surf adventure in Costa Rica. Some sort of athletic feat that suggests, at least to myself, that maybe I’m not getting older at all. Maybe I’m somehow going to sidestep this whole aging and death thing altogether. I know it’s unlikely, but it’s possible, right?
It’s an obvious and pathetic ploy to hang onto my youth, I know, but at least I’m not out there buying sports cars and hitting on baristas half my age. Okay, at least I’m not out there buying sports cars.
But this year, the morbid thoughts of mortality snuck up on me. I haven’t had the time to think about my birthday or the implications of birthdays. I’ve been too busy raising kids and working to have a proper midlife crisis, so I haven’t been able to plan an epic adventure to offset that nagging fear of mortality. There is no surf trip in my near future. No next-to-impossible mountain bike mission. There’s only birthday cake and 41 candles.
At least I had the foresight to get a good beer to help me celebrate that birthday. Hop Dang Diggity is a “southern” IPA from Jekyll Brewing, out of Alpharetta, Georgia. It’s loaded with pine aromatics and a beefy malt backbone giving you that one/two punch of sweet and bitter before disappearing with a dry finish. It’s a proper IPA that I will be glad to drink as I ring in my 41st year on this earth. I’ll sip it slowly as I plan the next adventure that will help stave off the aging process. I’m in my 40s now, so the stakes are higher. It’ll need to be something truly epic. Like, wrestling gorillas while navigating one of those giant inflatable standup paddleboards as it careens down class V whitewater. That’ll keep me young.