It’s my birthday and I’m annoyed.
Annoyed not because I’m another year older but because there is so much emphasis on this being a “FANTASTIC” day!
It’s like most holidays or celebrations we mark, the pressure is on for it to be incredible!
Make it great! Make it super fantabulous, over-the-top and totally awesome!
I am not a super fantabulous, over-the-top, totally awesome kinda’ girl.
I prefer the slow burn, the ease’ myself into the day with coffee, the paper and silence, the I prefer my decrepit slippers, the ancient Crocs with the sheepskin inside ones and comfy clothes that stretch and bag and keep me warm, to high heels and high fashion that binds and hurts and makes me look different than the me I am.
I have had my share of tumult and excitement in this life and my perfect day begins and ends with quiet and serenity and involves just my husband Angus and I, wandering gardens or antique fairs or galleries, sipping a nice warm Cab Sauv or a chill Sauvignon Blanc and turning off the world for a little bit.
The only surprise in this world I would enjoy, literally, figuratively and if there was any doubt in your mind, even minutely find amusing or pleasurable, would be to have my girls walk through my door unannounced because they are both so far away and I miss them dearly. That’s it. Nothing else.
I love my friends and family and would love to have them come visit me but not unannounced. I need time to fly around and clean like a mad harpy, stock my fridge with expensive stuff I don’t normally buy, Google recipes I can’t really handle and don’t know how to prepare, until I revert to throwing stuff in a pot and hoping I don’t kill anyone and yelling at Angus to stop hiding outside and help me get ready god damn it! Then yelling don’t walk on the floors as he slinks in for good measure. Now you know my secret, I’m actually not the together gal you thought I was …
So today, on the occasion of my 50th birthday, I’m in a funk. I was booking tickets last night on-line for tonight, at my new favourite spot, a movie theatre with reclining chairs, when Angus stopped me. “Uhmm, we’re having dinner at your Moms’ tomorrow so we can’t do that”, he mumbled. I have explained to him and everyone else who would listen that I want nothing for this birthday except a day for me. Butchart gardens, early dinner at Pagliaccis and then The Glass Castle to follow. I glowered at him over the glow of my keyboard and said, “ No, I told you I’m having a me day, no fuss, no people. We can go to Moms’ this weekend.”
Since I’m hitting this ½ century point people seem more intent than ever that it must be “marked” as a special day. Everyone but me seems to share this sentiment. I don’t get it. It’s not that I have any issue with getting older, really. Bring it on I say. Thank you universe for giving me time some of my dearest friends never got. I’m truly ok with aging. As my oldest friend forever emailed me this morning “ beats the alternative.”
She knows, she faced death squarely in the face and won not too long ago.
It’s just this insistence we as a society have on marking days and events instead of just appreciating every day and trying to find joy, even on Mondays, drives me crazy. Holidays and birthdays hold special joy for children because they are developing their minds; their imaginations and they adore the magic of it all. I was the most exuberant of all for holidays, ask my kids because I knew it was so very real and wondrous for them
Sadly, most adults with exception of the ones, let’s be honest, we label as slightly off their rockers or schizophrenic, know that real life is hard and most of that magic does not really exist. My youngest exclaimed, one Christmas morning, “ I know Santa is real because you and Daddy could never afford all this.” Sigh … such is the reality and belief of a young child and I protected that as long as I could, until the reality of the world crept’ in. We create it, we buy it, we engineer it. So on holidays and birthdays now I look for real, unfiltered beauty and joy in simplicity not over-the-top, fantabulous days.
I do believe in the adage that with age comes wisdom, or perhaps it’s just a better balance. I am not fussed, as my daughter firmly planted in Melbourne for three years now likes to say, about very much anymore. I choose my battles with more care, I limit my exposure to stuff I know will stress me out. I give of myself to the things in my community I think will help bring positivity and I am weary of those who pretend there is nothing they can do and expect others to always champion what’s right. If I see injustice, bigotry or hate I will not hesitate to call someone on it, I care less than ever about being popular or on the “ A list “ if it means compromising my principals. But on this day, I really just wanted to be a little narcissistic, a little reclusive and a little apart from this world.
Back to Angus and his complete inability to lie to me without the side of his mouth scrunching up just the same way both of his daughters do.
Apparently my mother is having a surprise gathering tonight – sorry AnneMarie and others, your cover is blown. I feel like I’m 12 years old. I’m stamping my foot and saying no, all the while understanding that I have no choice really but to show up. I have pretty much hated my birthday since I was 11 and my parents chose that day to put my elderly best friend Chinook, a Collie- Australian Shepherd cross down. Apparently work schedules conflicted with scheduling the vet …what? Clearly 39 years later I haven’t gotten over it. Then there was the sweet 16th night that involved a belly dancer, a shotgun and sleeping on the floor – not a night I could ever forget and certainly one that fueled my birthday curse theory.
Maybe the 21st birthday night that I spent watching someone dear to our family take her last breath in hospital, after a long and horrid battle with breast cancer solidified it. Basically I really don’t like my birthday, any year, any age.
So my friends and family who warmly offered your birthday wishes in cards or fb or email today. Thank You, I love you and lets just get one thing straight for the next 50 years. I really will try to have a nice day. I will try to have a nice day everyday of my life that remains. It probably won’t be fantabulous, over-the-top or totally awesome. I will go to the damn party tonight because my Mom wants me there and I will probably have a great time with my friends, reluctantly and with caution. That’s who I am, where I’ve come from,how I’m built and will most likely always be. No pressure, it’s not New Years …, which by the way, is matched for unrequited awesomeness and fantastical proportions.
In closing here’s my favourite excerpt of all time because it reminds me of me.
“Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.’
‘Does it hurt?’ asked the Rabbit.
‘Sometimes,’ said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. ‘When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.’
‘Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,’ he asked, ‘or bit by bit?’
‘It doesn’t happen all at once,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
― Margery Williams Bianco, The Velveteen Rabbit