I have this odd thing about milestones, an internalized pressure I have to have a good day. I’m supposed to, you know. On Christmas, Valentines, my birthday. That “supposed to” leaves me little room for being human, being fallible, making mistakes, not knowing what’s going on, committing errors. It’s not a very good force in my life, that “supposed to”. I’m sure many people can relate.
It happens I used to feel some self-pity when my birthday came and I felt blue, or things didn’t work out to my satisfaction, or the boyfriend wasn’t nice or I didn’t have a girlfriend or whatever. A long time ago, I think, the self-pity bit. Because several years ago I realized I had been given a very special life to live. Maybe this sea change germinated during my 17th and/or 18th birthdays, where both years my close friends pulled off some excellent surprise party-age for me; two years in a row tricking me, by the way – I was totally convinced nothing special was going down (and yes, I felt self-pity before the “SURPRISE!”, then felt like an ass, predictably). Or my 21st where I got a car with a bow on it from my parents, after a lovely dinner at the posh little restaurant my brother-in-law worked at. Or my 30th, the last few days in Port Townsend, when I had the most overwhelming and lovely going away/birthday party (P. remember you came down with gastritis?!). Or just the many little and brilliant things that have happened on so many birthdays. The small little stack of cards on my shelf right now with wonderful things written in them from good friends.
I have had in my life a lot of love and many wonderful friends. They’ve given me so many gifts: their time, their handcrafted wonderfulness, their gifts, sometimes quite extravagant, their gifts, usually knowing me and what I adore. They’ve given me their company and their kind regards and even those emails and little DMs and IMs and texts and handwritten cards. They’ve given me flowers and cakes topped with flowers, and wrapped-up lusciousness and very dear perfumes which were a pleasure to apply every morning. They’ve given me coffee and teas and soaps and candles and lipsticks, those things in life that make such a gift out of the smallest rituals. They’ve given me their company whether I felt happy or blue, whether I was being selfish or rude or distracted or happy. They’ve given, given, given.
They’ve gifted me all this and more.
I can only say Thank You to these friends and family; I can only say Thank You to the universe and re-commit to appreciating those in my life. I can re-commit to being kind and telling these people how I feel. I can only commit to taking more care to gift others, not out of obligation but because they are special people to me and gifting is a wonderful privilege. This sounds like only a little, but it is a lot. It is easy to get distracted and to not appreciate those in life when they are right here with us, to love or ignore, our choice.
I seem to have less of a mind for detail than I used to. I used to be able to remember so many things the kids and I did and I would write them all up here on this journal. Reading my old entries causes me pain. I think I was funnier, I know I had more pain and was more crass, I know I had more drama, but I think I’m still about as passionate. Still, I can only write as well as I do.
Here’s one event from the day: Phoenix and I were lying in bed this afternoon as I didn’t feel well (seriously I really did injure myself on that dance floor last night, my creaky old joints need more practice!), and she started making fun of my saggy boobs (they aren’t that saggy, but, whatever). And she was going on with quite a bit of prose on this fantasy so like really quickly all of a sudden I grabbed at her and poke-tickled her ribs (my brother had this move down with his boney-ass fingers) and she collapsed laughing and said, “I love insulting you!” and I said I would smash her flat, and she said, “You can’t control who you gave birth to!” and I said, “I know, and I immediately regret the choice to have you!” and we laughed really hard.
Then she fell quiet for a moment and corrected herself that yes, I could have chosen to not birth her, or to birth her but not raise her. And she grew somber and said how people who had too many cats would take a new litter and put it the creatures in a bag and throw it in the water. I said, “Yes, that is a sad thing.” She said, “It’s awful.” Then she said, “I think people might be doing this right now,” and her perfect little mouth was quite grave.
And I said, “Now that you have that awareness you can take care of animals, and teach others the value of caring for life.”
And Phoenix said, “What I’d like to do, is cross-breed kittens with snakes. Then if someone went to put them in a bag, [ mimics hissing / striking action ].”
So anyway, that’s one of the people I live with, and how their mind works.
Oh and yeah? It turns out, after a rough start, I did have a very nice birthday.
R.I.P. Whitney Houston; & here I have a dedication to my homegirl J., remember when we used to watch this in the apartment on 8th?
Oof, yes. I still deal with it all of the time, though I recognize the warning signs and it never gets to that point now. When I don’t drink enough water/get stressed/don’t sleep enough, it starts up again.
A very, very happy birthday to you!
an actual injury from a dance move? saggy boobs and kitten-snakes? win and win! y’all are hilarious.
(glad you suggested casa mia- that was a fun night for me. wee!)
This is belated, but I wanted to wish you a happy birthday anyway. Or more to the point, I wanted to wish you a great coming year – one filled with many moments of love, happiness, forgiveness, understanding, acceptance, compassion and wisdom, both for yourself and for/from others. It sounds like you had a wonderful start to the year, despite the knee injury. I hope the wonderful-ness continuous.
I used to get that stressed-out feeling about birthdays (my own was the 7th), mostly because I felt guilty about people spending money on me (or time or whatever) to celebrate me. But as the years have gone by I’ve learned to allow it. For the first time this year I didn’t complain that getting a check from my MIL is impersonal; instead I blew it on a cute pair of shoes, ones that I wouldn’t have bought for myself because I felt I couldn’t justify the cost. In the past I’d have used the money to pay bills or something. But I’m 40 now and I’ve begun to accept that I deserve people to celebrate me as much as others deserve to be celebrated.
How have I never seen that video when I have the song memorized? Thanks for the thoughts about birthdays and gratitude and kitten-snakes. Glad your special day was happy!
Thank you ladies for the birthday wishes and the comments!
I loved your comment. Learning to accept love, gifts, compliments, etc. is hard for many people. I really liked what you had to say.
I’ve been to thousands of meals at Casa Mia but that was the hungriest I’ve ever been! Good conversation too.
Happy Birthday, a little late. =)