They have changed drastically over the years. Such mile stones in youth, such millstones when we’re closer to the end. The feelings are mixed. I told Phyllis today that I’m not a year older until tomorrow at 7:04am. As I hurtle down that slide toward the inevitability of the next number I am hanging onto the sides with my fingernails. “You’re plenty-nine?” Plenty-eight, thank you. “It’s better than the alternative.” Oh, I don’t know. Jesus has quite the retirement plan waiting for me — no pills, no wheelchair …..
I had a revelation on my 7th birthday. “MOM!” What? “I’ll never be 6 again!!” I don’t remember her response. She probably bit her lip and turned around.
On my 16th birthday, you know, sweet 16, I actually daydreamed that they’d get me a car. Oh, yeah? I didn’t have my license yet and none of the other siblings got a car on their 16th birthdays, or 17th, or 18th, or at all. What was I thinking? Although, for Christmas that year, they proudly gave me my own set of keys to the family car. Using it required an act of congress, an angel appearance, and a thunderclap, but I had my own keys.
My 22nd was the last one I cared about. I was over 21, engaged, employed, part of the adult world which was always my goal. For many years after that, I had to think for 2 nanoseconds to actually remember my age and was not embarrassed to state it. 30 wasn’t emotional, or 31, but 32 got my attention as I was officially 30-something. On my 40th the girlfriends took me to breakfast, decorated with black balloons, and gave me dead rose stems with prunes on the ends. Funny, funny. Who cares about 40? It’s the new 30. You aren’t wrinkled yet.
Fifty. Still looked good. Fifty and 5 months it all started to unravel. Here come the organic cosmetics, the omega3, night creams, and tell me again what anti-oxidants are supposed to do? I forget.
The co-workers did not disappoint today. My cubie is festive with foil fireworks bouquets, glitter, balloons, and streamers. Since this crowd will bring in food for any occasion, there was pizza, chips, and cake — health food. Forget the omega3, does this stuff have preservatives? I’m really interested in all the preservatives I can get. Don’t know, but the sugar will help pass the hours.
Tomorrow people will come to the house grinning proudly over their meaner’n’snakes birthday cards, my personal favorite and help us celebrate with — what else? — food.
Birthdays are what you make them. Don’t skip one. One more thing. If you, like Mom, wait for your family to surprise you and they forget, don’t do that. Tell them a good month ahead of time “My birthday’s coming up. What shall we do?” It’s ok. They’ll appreciate not feeling guilty later.