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Why I Thought I Was Going to Die When I Turned 23. And Why I Was Right. (Part 1)

photo: Tim Green on flikr

Have you ever had the feeling something big was going to happen?

And then it did?

And somehow, knowing it was coming was part of its power?

In my case, it was the number 23. I’m not the only one to have a “thing” with this number. Melissa, my sweetheart, had it show up in her life in significant ways. And William S. Burroughs, author of Naked Lunch, thought that all incidents and events were ultimately connected to the number 23. He called it the 23 enigma.

photo: Anne Thorniley on flikr

Can you hear the freaky Twilight Zone music in the background?

I could. I was sixteen years old when the number 23 first began to assert its presence in my life. No, it didn’t knock on my door and whisk me off to another dimension. But it might as well have.

photo: sarai on flikr

Everywhere I turned, there it was. In books, in movies, in conversations. Not only that, the 23rd day of each month began to have increasing significance for me. Important things started to happen on those days.

Sometimes these things were pleasant, sometimes they were not: an unexpected gift, a fight with a friend. This mix of good and bad was baffling to me. Was 23 a positive omen in my life? Or a negative one?  

I was still a teenager, and the concept of ambiguity was lost on me. Black or white, good or bad. I wanted a clear delineation of good and evil, and I wasn’t getting it.

Bottom line, 23 appeared to have a presence in my life, and I couldn’t figure out what it was.

At some point, I started to wonder what was going to happen when I actually turned 23. Clearly, this number had a hold on me. What was going to happen when we were merged? Was I going to die?

Technically, I would turn 23 at the end of my 23rd year, but that was beside the point. The number would claim me, and that would be the end of me. I was pretty sure of it.

When the time came for me to submit to the will of the all-powerful 23, several things were going on in my life. For one thing, I’d recently graduated from college and I was, to put it mildly, lost. I was asking questions like Why are we here? What’s the point of existence? If cows have four stomachs, do they get four times as car-sick as people?

photo: milosz1 on flikr

Okay, I wasn’t asking that last question, but I could have been.

It wasn’t just questions about the ultimate point of life that were plaguing me. I was lost in day-to-day matters as well. I was working on a farm, which I loved, but I knew I wouldn’t be doing it forever. As for what I would be doing after the farm, I had no idea. Also, I was struggling with my sexuality and gender-orientation, unsure where I fit in the overall scheme of things.

Take all that, and mix in some home-grown marijuana.

photo: Guilhem Vellut on flikr

Oh yes, my friends, this is where it starts to get really fun. 

For the record, I am not a drug taker. Drugs and I do not see eye-to-eye. I’m way too much of a nerd to enjoy handing over my mind and psyche to some synthetic version of a good time.

And yet, at this point in my life, I was trying new things. Livin’ wild, livin’ crazy. Livin’ supposedly free-and-easy, but more like crabby-and confused.

So there I was, one month after my 23rd birthday. It had rained that morning and I couldn’t work on the farm.

So what did I do? 

I went to hang out with my stoner buddies.

And what did we do, even though it was only nine in the morning? 

Do you even have to ask?

photo: miss.libertine on flikr

Next thing I knew, I was running down the street and my legs fell off. Okay, they didn’t fall off exactly. It was more like my energy began to leave my body, starting at my legs. So even though there was a body there, no one was home.

In case you’re starting to think that this sounds more like a bad acid trip than a 1980’s home-grown-groove, you’re right. Except I was the only one tripping out. None of the other stoners experienced anything but a mild buzz.

So what was going on?

Did my nerdly, drug-avoiding persona bring on the freaky time? Was the eviction from my body a natural outcome of my existential crisis? Or was my strange reaction due to the mysterious and pernicious influence of the number 23?

photo: Erich Ferdinand on flikr

I have no idea.

All I know is that it’s almost impossible to describe what happened next. But I will try.

To keep reading, go here.

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35 Responses to Why I Thought I Was Going to Die When I Turned 23. And Why I Was Right. (Part 1)

  1. Squirrel January 3, 2012 at 7:46 am #

    a cliff hanger, z? really? no fair! 😉

    i look forward to the continuation.

    <3 xos

    • Michele Cruz January 3, 2012 at 8:26 am #

      right-o — not fair Z! Waiting for the 23rd to post part 2?

      • Z Egloff January 3, 2012 at 11:22 am #

        Hi Michele!

        I’m not THAT mean. You only have to wait until next week! :) I’m only a little mean. . . .


    • Z Egloff January 3, 2012 at 11:24 am #

      Squirrel, Melissa warned me that people might get mad that I posted this in two parts. But it was too long for one post. It was WAY more of a cliff hanger in person, believe me. 😉 XOZ

    • Angel April 16, 2012 at 6:52 pm #

      thanks Z for reminding me to be happy and Lauph and bring my
      smart ass
      come out and play.

      Love Angel

      • Z Egloff April 17, 2012 at 11:48 am #

        Hi Angel,

        Welcome to the land of the Goofballs!! Good to see you here. I would be most happy if this blog inspires you to laugh and be happy and let out your smart ass. Let your Freak Flag Fly!!


  2. Jo Lauer January 3, 2012 at 9:12 am #

    Hopefully, you’ll answer the burning question about the 4-bellied cows and carsickness as well. Can’t wait.

    • Z Egloff January 3, 2012 at 11:21 am #

      Hi Jo!

      Actually, my plan is to only address the cows. It’s a fascinating subject, really. 😉


  3. Jill Shinn January 3, 2012 at 11:01 am #

    No way! I had a similar experience (drinking too much and running crazy and scared through downtown San Jose)—not my finest hour. I can’t wait to hear the rest of you story!!!

    • Z Egloff January 3, 2012 at 11:19 am #

      Oh, the things we did when we were young! You’ll have to tell me more about the San Jose marathon sometime. . .

  4. Cecilia January 3, 2012 at 12:09 pm #


    • Z Egloff January 3, 2012 at 12:14 pm #

      Oh, but you must waaaaaaaaait. :)

      • Cecilia January 3, 2012 at 12:39 pm #

        Whyyyy Z oh whyyyyyy

        • Z Egloff January 3, 2012 at 3:05 pm #

          It is the waaaaay of the mysterious 23. No one knows whyyyyyyyyy it is this waaaaaay.

  5. Lili January 3, 2012 at 8:14 pm #

    WHAT??? We have to WAIT??? But we live in the 21st century! We’re not used to waiting!!!! Plus now the cow question will plague me forever.

    • Z Egloff January 4, 2012 at 11:23 am #

      Yeah, I was trying to approximate the 19th century, when blog writers frequently made their readers wait a week to get the next installment of their story.

      As for the cows, it’s like a Zen koan. Meditating on the answer will make you enlightened. Guaranteed!!

  6. Jeff B January 4, 2012 at 8:28 am #

    No Fair! No Cliffhangers allowed in Religious Science! 😛

    • Z Egloff January 4, 2012 at 11:22 am #

      Actually, cliffhangers are in the Science of Mind textbook – page 2184, paragraph 2. “There is One Mind, and that Mind is God’s Mind, and that Mind is One with all things, including and especially cliffhangers.” :)

      • Jeff B January 4, 2012 at 11:38 am #

        LOL. Thats a good one, Z. Love it.

  7. Whitefire January 9, 2012 at 8:41 pm #

    I didn’t have to wait. Got 23 on my fastfood number and saw 223 robins on the lawn where I was writing and have fell asleep on page 23 of a new novel. What’s up w/ that?

    Love your blog.

  8. Whitefire January 9, 2012 at 8:43 pm #

    ok NOW I’m waiting…

    • Z Egloff January 9, 2012 at 8:49 pm #

      Lucky for you, Part 2 is about to post. At 1:11 am tomorrow. . . . :)

  9. Shem January 10, 2012 at 8:08 am #

    It sounds like that whole add the two digits together, divide by 6, square that number, and then multiply that digit by your birth date and then by the year you were born thing.

    • Z Egloff January 10, 2012 at 10:34 am #

      Totally. It’s exactly like that. And even when you square it and divide by 111 and add all the digits together and stand on you head, it still adds up to 23.

      • Shem January 10, 2012 at 10:48 am #

        True dat mamma! (The only exception that I’ve found is that if you divide by 666 rather than 111 you get a whole other thing.)

        • Z Egloff January 10, 2012 at 10:57 am #

          Yeah, that’s a whole nother post. That’s a whole nother BLOG.

          Oh, and your last comment was the 23rd comment on this post. Just sayin. 😉

          • Shem January 10, 2012 at 11:11 am #

            That was my plan…(and I’m not the devil!)
            Loving your blog. Thanks Z!

  10. Mido January 25, 2012 at 7:55 am #

    It seems you just saw the movie “the number 23” starring jim carrey.

    • Z Egloff January 25, 2012 at 12:03 pm #

      Hi Mido, I wasn’t aware of this movie. Jim Carrey takes on the number 23. Who knew? After reading about the plot of this movie, it seems I got off easy. 😉 Z

      • Mido January 26, 2012 at 11:04 am #

        Glad I could help mate. 😀


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