Each and every August, I turn a year older. While my approaching birthday is not considered to be a Big Birthday, aren’t they all Big Birthdays?
After all, why should a milestone that ends in a five or a zero be any more complex and important than one ending in a three, or a seven, or even a one?
But they are, aren’t they? I mean, we make them so.
On my 30th birthday, I hid at home. From the perspective of 16, 30 seems guaranteed to have had enough seasons to have fallen in love, become world-renowned in a career, and to have figured out who I was.
And in some ways, that was true. I was married, had love, and a crappy career that would grow to a better one, and had, at least, mostly figured out who I wasn’t.
Still though, I hid from that 30th birthday. Looking back on it now, I think “Oh you silly stupid girl! You were so young! So much was ahead of you!” Which is true. But I also see then-me and now-me hugs her because as the older I get, the more I suspect that we never truly feel like a grown-up. We’re still figuring this stuff out every single day. I wish I’d taken a photo on my 30th birthday. I think I’d liked to have seen it this week.
Aging and the Complexity of Birthdays
When my son turned six this summer, I must have taken 200 photos. While the majority are poorly framed and capture the running-jumping-blurry backs of heads, I’m glad that I have a few of his first for-real birthday party. I think he’ll enjoy seeing them one day.
On my seventh birthday, I invited seven friends. Six girls, and one boy. His name was Ricky and I loved him with a ferocity and acceptance that we eventually lose through the living and the being. We lose it sometime between seven and something, once we realize that people can hurt us on purpose and also by mistake.
Ricky and I used to hide under his bed, and behind the bushes between our houses. Hidden and safe, we’d pick Juniper berries, and smash them with our fingers. We shared everything. On the day that we showed one another our butts, each quickly kissing a cheek of the other’s, he told me that his black eye was really from his father hitting him and not from a rake falling on his face when he opened the door to the shed.
For my birthday present, he brought me a box of six soaps. They were white, and shaped like hearts. They had flower patterns on them, and I thought they were the fanciest, most grown-up present I’d ever receive. Today, they’re in a box underneath my bathroom sink. I don’t think I’ve looked at them since unpacking into this house, but knowing they are there brings me peace and hope of seeing the world through the eyes of a seven-year-old again. Their presence reminds me that the best gifts are sometimes $3.99 and from Walgreens.
Ricky moved away a few weeks after his behind-the-bush confession. I never spoke to him again. I had my mom call Information – the 70’s version of Google – but we never did find him. I hope his dad stopped hurting him. I hope he wasn’t telling me the truth about his black eye, although I think that he probably was.
I wish I had a photo of him being at my birthday party. I’d enjoy seeing those photos today.
As my birthday approaches, I feel old. I see wrinkles and sun spots on my face that weren’t there just seven years ago and I study photos of myself from then, forgetting that seven years is seven years and that my own son has only yet celebrated six.
That six is a lifetime from two. That it’s okay that each year I inch and fly closer to my death than I do to my birth.
I remind now-me that the me who is (hopefully) here in seven years will look back, and think “Oh you silly stupid girl! You were so young! So much was ahead of you!” Which is true. There is. There is so much ahead of me. And you bet your ass that I’ll be taking photos at this upcoming birthday of mine. I’ll be in them, and will keep them even if they’re mostly running-jumping-blurry backs of heads. I think I’ll enjoy seeing them one day.
This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post. This week’s sentence is “When I think of birthdays…”
Host: Me, of Finding Ninee
and this week’s beautiful co-hosts are Stacey of This Momma’s Ramblings and Mimi of Mimi Time!