Last night was my birthday, and I am now 31 years old. What fun. There has been a heat wave going on in the city of Austin for the past week. And, it is supposed to be one hundred and seven degrees tomorrow. The past two nights, we’ve had to wait until after dark to leave the house. Riding bikes in the light of day is a recipe for heatstroke. Luckily, an old friend of Brian’s is letting us stay at her place while we are in town. She is housesitting for her parents, and has given us free reign of her studio apartment. We had lunch with her, and then she went tearing off to do battle with people from the Student Loan office. All I really know about her so far is that she is a force, and has a lot of good books. Writers whose names I’ve heard about, but haven’t read…like Camus.
August 26th is right before school starts, so most kids are on some kind of a trip with their parents. At least when you’re nine through eighteen and come from east side of the Bay Area, where everyone takes a trip at the end of the summer. So, no big birthday parties for Sharif. L Then came the college years; still, the same problem as before. The University of California quarter system doesn’t resume until the end of September, and all of my newly found friends were back in their respective hometowns. I would be at home and continue on in the same manner as middle thru high school; playing golf with my dad and a couple of friends, and then having dinner with my family. In the summer of 2003, I was in the process of gearing up for a victory lap at UC Santa Barbara. Painting and Poetry were my two classes… Every single summer day is perfect in Santa Barbara… It’s kind of amazing when you put a bunch of college-aged kids together in a seaside community with very little to do except play soccer on the beach, and throw bad fashion parties.
Most of my friends had graduated like regular functioning people, and I had to come out of my shell a little bit to try to find some new friends. Luckily, some people that I had been with in the freshman dorms were taking their time with school as well. Also, most of us being twenty-one now meant we could go down town to the bars and hang out with real, adult women. Not these silly college girls we’d been hanging out with, but women. One’s that weren’t just into guys on the surf team, or talking about crap on television. I was surprised to find that the girls in bars talked pretty much the same as the girls in house parties. Just because you get older doesn’t mean you magically become more interesting. Anyway, all of this to say, it was a fun summer, and this time everyone was around for my birthday. It was the first time I had been thrown a birthday party in a long time, and it was really fun. I was turning twenty-three…old for my years because I had been held back in the third grade. That year is lost in the hazy past of the early twenties. In looking back with some slightly out of focus hindsight, I remember being still totally confused and out of place in my own life, but for that party, it felt really good to be with friends.