Birthdays are a really big deal to me. I don't know where, when, why the need to have fantastic birthdays developed, but it did. Maybe it had to do with my childhood friend and neighbor Justin having birthdays complete with scene cakes from Neldam's Bakery. For the record, I hate frosting and rock candy, both of which featured prominently in these cakes but oh, they looked good. And, I loved angel food cake with strawberries so I'm not sure why I had cake envy, but I did.
My father once tried to tease me around my birthday. He and my step-mother sent me outside to play with my brother. At 7pm, they called me in to bed. No mention of my birthday (I was nine), not one. I burst into tears as they all sang happy birthday to me. No, I'm not over it.
For my sixteenth birthday, I left friends and pizza for home, a Safeway cake and a cut out of a sleeping bag from the REI catalog. No song.
At eighteen, I was home recuperating from appendicitis, an episode which my mother will never live down. I had to cajole her into taking me to the doctor after a 12-hour bout of vomiting. This is the same woman who clutches my arm when I want to cross the street shrieking, "Look out!"
Twenty-one and in college means bars, legally. Not for me. Out with my older housemates and was not allowed into one of the bars. Too young.
Twenty-eight hurt because I wasn't married and didn't have children, two things I really wanted by 28. Thirty. Now that was fine because 30 wasn't going to scare me and it didn't. Thirty-six, though, well, that sounded a little up there. Not married, no kids, uh oh.
The bleakest year, though, was 39. Not the year, really, because by the time my birthday rolled around, Mister and I were pregnant, thanks to a Petri dish and modern science. But 39 sounds old. Old. OLD. It sounds like impending oldness. Like pedal pushers and coral lipstick. Lite rock and less talk. Eggs that dry up and blow away like so much dust in the wind. Thirty-nine gave me Lentil, a beautiful thing, but 40 drifted in front of me like the Ghost of Birthdays Future.
What a surprise to wake up on Wednesday morning to a glorious day. Mister brought me tea and presents and Lentil all ready to sip and open and enjoy. Nothing spectacular, no fireworks, but the nicest birthday I've ever had. My mother came that evening, allowing Mister and me to have dinner out. Loverly.
On Saturday, we had a potluck picnic filled with babies and friends and children. Mister made hamburger buns, aioli, and basil-burgers. He made puddle cake. He grilled. He held Lentil while she slept. I visited, I wandered, I worried people weren't having a good time. It was hot, hot, hot but a giant redwood gave us shade and the Bay provided a breeze. The grass was cool and green.
It was great. All Mister, all the time.
Thirty-nine is a year of staring at the band-aid, imagining how bad pulling it off will hurt. Forty is the moment after the band-aid is off, when you realize the wound has healed and the band-aid slipped off with nary a tug.


One thought on “Birthdays

  1. Mister says:

    Happy birthday, my love. Your friends and your family and your daughter and your husband all totally adore you. I’m glad the party was all you wanted it to be – you deserve that and more.


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