Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

I am turning 30 soon. I have no anxiety about that. What I do have anxiety about is the 30th birthday party my wife is planning on throwing…At least she knows me well enough to not make it a surprise, because surprises are terrible. Everyone hates them…No you say??? You love surprises….No you don’t…You know why you don’t?? I will tell you why. Pearl Harbor and the appearance of Janet Jackson’s nipple at Superbowl XXXVIII. See, I told you that you hate surprises….

My last birthday party was when I was 7 years old and it was held at McDonalds with all of my friends or maybe it was just every boy that happened to be in my class that year. For the most part that is how friendship works when you are a kid… So your best friend in grade 3 is not in your class in grade 4..?? You are dead to me…..So long buddy…maybe we will be bestest friends in grade 5.

McDonalds in 1990 was a magical place…..Looking for sarcasm??? None here. It is true, nothing was cooler than a McDonalds birthday party. You got the whole playroom to yourself. The playroom at that time was equipment with sharp, metal edged, death trapish rides that equate to childhood bliss. There was a button on the wall that started and stopped the merry-go-round that was conveniently out of a child’s reach. So if you were the child riding said merry-go-round you were stuck on it until you puked up your happy meal (toy and all) or you had been previously trained on how to dismount off of a moving wheel of death and were able to execute a perfect jump and shoulder roll landing yourself safely in the discarded old shoes in the corner. To top it all off, if you were the lucky birthday boy or girl (and had survived your romp with death) you were treated to a full tour of the McDonald’s kitchen operations and in the final leg of the tour were allowed to create your own sundae any which way you wished (extra pickles and sprinkles please!!). I have no idea if McDonalds still does this, but they should, because it was awesome. Another awesome thing about McDonalds in the earlier 90s was pizza. Anyone who wasn’t there is laughing right now; anyone who was there needs no explanation. The best pizza I have ever had in my life was in a little pizzeria on the beach in the Bahamas that made personal sized wood fired pizza….The second best was McDonalds in 1991. If you never got to experience this joy go to the Twin Pines Mall in Hill Valley. Hide in the bushes and wait for Marty to get out of the Delorean to check Doc’s vital signs. Sneak in the driver’s seat, set the clock according and put the pedal to the floor. When the flux capacitor starts glowing and you hit 88 miles an hour you my friend are moments away from personal sized pizza heaven.

That McDonalds party was my last birthday party. Because really, how could I top that?? Now that I am turning 30 my wife insists that I have a party with all my family and friends to celebrate the occasion. Celebrating a birthday always seemed odd to me. Have you really accomplished anything? Celebrate getting married, having a child, getting a promotion or watching a whole season of 24 in one day. Yes, these are things to celebrate! But a birthday…?? Maybe if I lived it a country with a fairly low life expectancy, then I could see celebrating a birthday (Yah!! I kicked famines ass and survived another year!!) I live a fairly low-risk lifestyle; it really isn’t too hard for me to make it another year. However maybe I am looking at this the wrong way…Maybe I shouldn’t be celebrating making it another year, but a celebration of surviving the last decade. I made it through my 20s and am a fairly well adjusted adult now with a wife, kid and mortgage. As my 20s come to a close maybe I should reflect a bit and decide if 30 is really worth celebrating.

I learned a lot in the last decade. I went to University in Toronto, studying English lit. I probably spend several more hours in barrooms then I ever did in a lecture hall. I guess you have to ask the question was spending tens of thousands of dollars on an education spent in a pub worth it. Yes. Absolutely. I spent many a day drinking away the hours in a campus bar with complete strangers of all different ethnicities, religions and creeds. I debated politics, gender issues, religion, literature sometimes jokingly and others in a much more heated fashion. And I am better for all of it. The truth is high school sucks for most people. Even the people who enjoyed it are still as pigeon holed in to stereotypes ‘Breakfast Club’ style as everyone else is. It isn’t until we go away and enter the pre-real world of college/university that we can look back and realize the all the bullshit of the last 4-5 years doesn’t matter. This is the time in your life when you can be who you really want to be. I experienced a lot of different things in this time, good and bad. Those first few years away from home shaped me and built the foundation of who I am today. I still look back on those days fondly….The ones I can remember that is. (Still not sure why I woke up in my dorm room bed one morning cuddling with a paper towel dispenser from a girls washroom……One day I will discover the truth…) When my daughter comes of age and starts to consider post-secondary options, I will strongly advise her to stay away from local schools. As hard as it would be to let her go, I know that moving away from home will make her a better, stronger person. I just hope to God that she doesn’t experience some of things I did…..But I want her to discover the best the world has to offer and a lot of the best things you need to find on your own.

After finishing school, I went even farther away. I got a loan, bought a car and drove across Canada. I had no job lined up and no real plans. I had just finished spending the majority of my life in a class room and needed to live a life of no restrictions for a while. I will save the stories of this road-trip for another time, but I would advise anyone to take such a trip. No matter what country you live in, you should discover it. Before you think of travelling abroad, travel your own country first. Take a friend if you can stand being in a car with another human for hours on end. If you can’t, do it alone. I spend 50 plus hours alone in my car, I went a little crazy, but it was fun and it forced me to meet new people in places I stopped. I know we are all well conditioned from a very young age that strangers are dangerous and are akin to the monsters in your closet. However if you allow yourself, you can meet some interesting characters and have some pretty cool adventures. Trust your gut. It is the best tool you will ever have. If someone doesn’t feel right, even if you can’t put your finger on it, avoid them. That said if you feel the urge to sit and have a pint with the old guy at the end of the bar that everyone else is avoiding, go for it. I bet you he has some stories that will blow your mind.

The best place I lived during my travels was Banff, Alberta in the Canadian Rockies. To this day I still believe it is the most beautiful place I have ever seen. It is an experience. If you can visit, you should. Be warned though the place does have somewhat of a Hotel California affect. I spent a year there and never got used to the fact that on any given day elk would be walking down the main drag side by side with people. It is unreal. However, it is also the place that I learned that you can have too much of a good thing, and your body can only handle so much of a ‘good time’. Up till that point I had been following the life plan of greats such as Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin (especially the Southern Comfort part) and Kurt Cobain (minus Courtney Love and a shotgun). Then I realized that 27 was only a few years away, and the aforementioned had a few problems in their 27th year. It was time to move on.

I came back home. It was time, and everyone has to come back at some point. I never planned on staying. Just a short visit, then off to the next adventure…that was the plan. What I did not know at the time is the next adventure would keep me there, and that adventure would continue to this day. I met my yet-to-be wife. Everything changed. I found myself wanting to stick around. We had a very, very long courtship….But when things started, they happened fast. It was only a week between our first kiss and moving in together. This would be the most important lesson I would get out of my twenties. If something feels right, don’t wait. Leap. Life is too short, and chances for life changing events are gone in a second. When your window opens you have to jump through, no matter what anyone says. My wife and I both jumped through that window without a tinge of hesitation or regret. We have been together for five years, have a newborn daughter and our adventure changes every day.

Rereading that last paragraph I think that maybe I shouldn’t give my wife such a hard time for wanting to throw me a birthday party. I guess I do have a reason to celebrate. I am not sure if the things I accomplished in my twenties are what I set out to do. I do know that I am proud of what I did accomplish.

In closing, I should say that it is good to have plans and goals. Just don’t set them in stone or be so focused on them you are closed minded to everything else. Sometimes the greatest things are the most unexpected. If I am walking towards a door and on the way another door is open, I am probably going to go through it, because who knows…something great could be inside like your soul mate, or even better…McDonalds’ pizza!


Jason – @gskewedview
P.S. I apologize for the majority of this not being funny….It was not my intention to get all serious on your ass….Cest la vie.