Thoughts On Turning 30: Waking Up Alone
So in 12 days I’m turning 30-years-old, which means it’s all I’ve been thinking about lately, which means it’s all I might write about between now and the 18th.
As I count down the days to my born day, a lot of my friends are asking me what I am going to do, what I want to do, etc. My answer is the same one I give ever year, I really don’t know.
I think I mentioned this last year when I was turning 29, but being a summer baby and sharing birthdays with my sister who is three years younger but born on the 16th, I’ve always been reluctant to do a whole lot for my day. Also, it’s worth noting, since living in New York, celebrating my birthday has always been made easier by the fact that it usually falls on or around the same time as this big barbecue that’s held in Brooklyn every year, and most folk I want to see are usually there.
For right now, the only thing I do know I want is to wake up in my own apartment by myself on my 30th birthday.
To some, this might seem like an odd request. To others it may seem like a roundabout way of asking for two women to offer up their company around the stroke of midnight on July 18. That is not true (unless there are two girls who want to make a liar out of me).
But no, really, as I get older, the weeks and days leading up to my birthday always seem to get more and more introspective. I think. A lot. And so the solitude of waking up by myself on my birthday has become a weird sort of necessity to starting my day off right.
Throughout the majority of my 20s, I always had the pleasure of waking up to a girlfriend or a lady friend (we do know the difference, right?) on my birthday. It wasn’t until I was 28 that I experienced waking up alone that day, and I remember that year going to bed with a deep anxiety about the whole thing, as though it was some sort of poetic justice that being served onto me for all the wrongs I did.
Now as I turn 30, I kind of feel like waking up alone is what’s best for me on my birthday, even if I am dating someone at the time. The day before, the day after, I can celebrate with whoever is in my life however we would like to, but on that specific day, with the exception of the hours in between spent with people who are important, I want to wake up alone and I want to go to sleep alone.
Birthdays are intimate, man.
Turning a year older grows in significance for me every year, and these days I have become more mindful of sharing such significant moments. This was something I realized on a day that wasn’t my birthday.
I was asleep, alone in my bed. At the time I was single, but of course had a woman in my life who I cared about and I knew cared about me, but she wasn’t in bed with me. The reason, I can’t recall, but in retrospect, waking up alone was exactly what I needed.
The phone rang at an unusual time, something like 6:30 a.m. It was my brother, and it is amazing how in the two seconds it took me to answer the phone I already came to the conclusion the news wasn’t good.
“Brother,” he said.
“Yeah,” I said.
“He passed away.” The “He” my brother was referring to was our father.
“Okay,” I told him. “Give me an hour? I’ll be ready.”
We were going to D.C. immediately to meet our other brother and make the necessary arrangements. For about five minutes, I went into autopilot. I immediately got out of bed, called my mother to break the news to her, turned on my shower, and then, that is when it all hit me. The emotions of it all just poured out of me, and the only thing I was thankful for at that moment was my solitude, because this was a significant moment for me, not to be shared with anyone.
I know it seems odd and maybe even morbid to think that morning would be anything like waking up on my birthday. Turning a year older is good news, and certainly better news than receiving the news that a loved one has passed, but I bring up that memory to illustrate the importance of sometimes needing to be alone during life’s most significant moments.
The day I turn 30 is going to be huge for me, I know myself well enough to know that when I wake up, I will be the happiest man alive, but also in a level of thought so deep it’s going to make yoga masters look like they have ADD. It won’t last all day, probably just the duration of my workout, but I’m going to need that time to be alone because I’m turning 30 that day. Biggest moment of my life.
I went to Essence Music Festival and wrote about it for THE ROOT. Click here to read.
PAPER Magazine let me write the cover story of their latest issue on Swizz Beatz. Cop it at a newsstand or click here to read.
For BILLBOARD, I contributed to a package the magazine did on independent artists with a small profile I did of saxophonist Kenneth Whalum III. Cop it at a newsstand or click here to read.
Speaking of jazz musicians, also did an interview over at THE WALL STREET JOURNAL with Christian Scott, Stefon Harris, and David Sanchez who just released their new collaboration album, Ninety Miles. Click here to read