The Day I Don’t Have to Share
There is no finer reminder that a year has gone by than a September birthday. You grow up knowing that in order for your birthday (and birthday party) to arrive, you have to accept shorter days, homework, and chilly mornings at the bus stop. School supplies and new white sneakers (and that birthday party) kind of make this seem like a good trade, at least at first. Then, it’s just plain autumn with winter on the way and math every night before playtime or tv can happen.
It’s been a long, long time since September spelled “homework” or “school bus”, but at 35, it certainly has prompted an end-of-summer, end-of-messing-around assessment of where I was last year, where I am today, where I might be by the time twelve more months pass by.
Researching a story this summer, I watched a season of Sex and the City, searching for the episode where one character retrieves a cake from her trashcan and takes a few more bites before throwing it out a second time and pouring dish soap over it to discourage herself from having a third go at the frosting. In another episode, someone turns 35 and the ladies celebrate over lunch, ticking off “should have by now” achievements and racking up a list of things the birthday girl has failed to do. Never big on that sort of judgmental shit, as my own 35th grew near, I found myself tallying up my life just like Carrie Bradshaw.
And today, 35 arrived. Over lunch, a friend asked me to list The Best of 2008–best all-round event, best family thing, best financial thing, best private thing (the last I was allowed to think of in my head and nod, “yep”, but not say out loud)…
…and I realised, for all my annual stewing thinking fussing birthday anxiety, I’ve never looked at my year that way. This changes everything! This way of looking is really lovely!
Instead of pretending today didn’t exist, I’ve taken it all in. A man stopped me in the street to tell me I had a gorgeous smile. Instead of thinking he was a flirtatious dick, I felt he was performing a well-mannered public service: pointing out a pretty girl’s prettiness. I cycled to a cake shop after work and picked out a stunning tiny thing–pistachio chocolate caramel with sickly sweet frosting. I intend to eat every bite, as soon as I return from yoga class. Also, I decided I look rather cute in my skirt and kneesocks and new shoes, and bought a bunch of flowers to match.
And, in my head, I thought again of The Bests, and decided that 34 was indeed a fabulous year.