Tomorrow I turn 30. In your 20’s you stop writing out your age long-form. In your 30’s, you stop writing your age, period, and simply begin a never-ending process of lying. I won’t have to for a while, as I have the face of a teenager (at least, if me still being carded for cigarettes is any indication), but that’s what I’ve been told. By my mother, who lies about her age to this day (and who did throughout my childhood, until one of us children realized that her Manhattanville diploma didn’t square with her story), by popular television, by US Weekly. This is where the era of Great Lying begins. That it has been ongoing since birth is immaterial, since this is the DMZ of this shit. This is the place where I cross over to the dark side.
Because you know what? When you’re in your 30’s you do all sorts of crazy things that require you to believe the lie. You get married, believing that you’ve found true love (and, Lord, oh, Lord, I hope I have, and that I will). You have children, believing that this is the obvious next step, that you’ll be a great father, that she’ll be a great mother, ignoring that to do so is incredibly selfish, that to do so you’re condemning your children not only to be the inheritors of the Industrial Revolution’s own spawn — a fierce and unrelenting climate — but also to be the children of yourself, who is in turn the child of his father, his mother, they with their own demons, histories, parents and grandparents. That I will turn into something like my father is a given. That I will try to be better than him is, too. That I will succeed?
Well, I guess that’s just up to me. But I am my father’s son.
Francesca told me that Of course having children would be wonderful, and since I’ve already broken all of my rules with her, I said, Maybe you’re right, and she said, There’s still beauty in the world, no matter how horrible it all turns out, and I said, Jesus, you’re just like Camus. I told this, too, to my therapist, that I’m fundamentally a subscriber to absurdism, that you’re duty-bound to create meaning, that life is worth living because you have a responsibility to make it so, and he laughed, and asked me if I’d read The Stranger, to which I replied, Sure I’ve read The Stranger, and we spent several minutes talking about the meaning and meaninglessness of life, and whether I’d read it in the original French (I haven’t; he has), and then my time was up and I said, Oh, and I’m going to quit smoking, too.
And he said Let me know how that goes.