As the calendar inevitably speeds towards my half-century mark, it's time to answer some big questions.
Beyoncé and I share a birthday. On September 4, one of us will be 50 years old.
By reading that sentence out loud, it marks the first time I acknowledge what I've been silently obsessing about for the better part of a year. I'm actually turning 50. In countless ways, that fact seems impossible to me. My incredulity stems not so much from how the inevitable aging process is impacting me personally, but how 50 is the age I still picture my parents as being. How could I be turning the same age as my mom and dad?
My mother, Addy, is a beautiful, brilliant, active woman who came home from work nearly three decades ago seemingly distraught as she announced to my closest friends and me assembled in the den, "I cannot be turning 50! I can't believe that half my life is over!" As the room fell silent, I broke the sudden tension by saying, "Half your life? Are you kidding? You better not live to be 100 -- who's going to take care of you that long?" As my friends burst out laughing, my mom, who appreciates rough humor as much as anyone I know, smiled, kissed my cheek sweetly and said rather ominously, "Oh, my son, how I look forward to the day you turn 50." Yeah, whatever mom, that day was a million years away.
That day is now here.
I've never been particularly worried about age; in fact, to mark my other momentous birthdays, I've been fortunate to have amazing friends to make sure no one would ever forget. When I turned 20, my fellow Tulane University buddies planned a weekend bender they dubbed "Papi Gras" on Bourbon Street in New Orleans' famous French Quarter and orchestrated my staying sauced from Friday afternoon to Sunday night. I may not remember much, but the pics reveal all had a most festive weekend. When 30 hit, my Manhattan-based crew organized a Labor Day four-day "Papipalooza" in the impossibly chic Hamptons on Long Island. As the clock struck midnight and I officially turned 30, my friends (more than two dozen) and I were bouncing up and down, deliriously happy, dancing with abandon at a hot nightclub. It was a most wonderful memory to be sure.
But nothing -- nothing -- could prepare me for the epic nature of what turning 40 would mean. As I rounded the corner and landed at 40 I was the Editor in Chief of Time Inc.'s People en Español, the largest and most important magazine for Hispanics in the country, my famous friends and colleagues decided that they weren't going to let that huge birthday pass without fanfare. The result became a sort of unbelievable birthday world tour that encompassed ten massive parties in five countries and three continents including a mind-blowing mega kickoff at the legendary celebrity destination, Chateau Marmont, held at Bungalow 2 where I was staying for a week. The party was insanely fun and it was easily one of the greatest nights of my life. The fête was organized by Queer Eye's superstar interior designer, Thom Filicia, and the music came courtesy of Ellen rock star DJ, Tony Okungbowa, who spun so expertly that the dozens of Hispanic and Hollywood A-listers in the crowd were dancing in a joyful frenzy. I couldn't believe all of this was happening for me. Nuts.
Other birthday events were equally mind-blowing and included a South Beach (Miami) 400-person blowout hosted by dear friends Gloria Estefan and her husband, Emilio, at their Ocean Drive hotel, Cardozo, that came with all the fixins' -- red carpet, dozens of celebrities, live music, samba dancing troupe imported from Brazil, a massive cake with my likeness that more than a few party revelers seemed to enjoy hacking into a little too much.
The other celebrations held for me included a four-star dinner in Mexico City's W Hotel attended by that country's most famous folks, an impressive New York City dinner at superstar chef Jean-Georges' incredible restaurant followed by a jaw-dropping soiree hosted by music mogul Charlie Walk at his beautiful TriBeCa duplex that filled up with many of Gotham's heaviest hitters and bold-faced names. Oh, but there was more. Crazy parties soon followed in Madrid, San Juan (Puerto Rico), Montreal and, most impossibly, Sydney, Australia. It was, of course, the most humbling time of my life.
It was certainly good being me at 40. Now, 50.
Though some of my closest friends are rumbling about making a big deal out of this next chronological landmark in my life, I'm uncharacteristically silent on the subject. And the simple fact that I've had enough over-the-top celebrations to last me a lifetime is certainly a factor (as is craving more stillness as I get older), but it does bother me that turning 50 is affecting me in such silly, but undeniable ways. Look, I'm a smart guy; I know, logically, that 50 is only a number and all that, but it's something else, too. I have questions I need answering. Big questions. Am I on the right path? Is the clock winding down faster than I'm ready for? What, exactly, is my life about?
After sharing my internal monologue with my closest friend -- who himself just hit the half-century mark a few months ago -- he told me that everyone he knows had similar reservations about turning 50. "It's not the fact of becoming 50, it's what that number represents. Also, so many people in our age group are suddenly dealing with disease, financial worries and mortality issues and all of that naturally raises grave concern."
But, you know what, here's what I've resolved: I'm turning 50 years old, and I'm just great. I'm healthy, happy, love and receive love, my parents and siblings are all good and my friends are the best people in the world. Oh, and I have a job that challenges and thrills me in a million unexpected ways. Bottom line: I have a damn good life. As of late, I've found myself thinking a lot about what George Orwell famously said, "At 50, everyone has the face he deserves." Look at mine. I'm a happy man.
So, yeah, an incredibly blessed life is something Beyoncé and I share besides our birthday on September 4. I wonder if Ms. Knowles is free for a (quiet) celebration on our big day. Jay Z can come, too.
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