It's my party, I can cry if I want to.
- Lesley Gore
Birthdays have always been a funny thing for me. It was as if I was expecting everything and nothing ever went according to the extravagant plan in my head. I was incessantly wishing for somebody to love and imagining that on this one of 365 days, I would be happy, that the stars would align and everything I wished for would come true. It never quite worked out that way.
On my sweet sixteen I ate lunch in the hallway of my new high school by myself because my only friend (who wasn't really a friend, just someone to insure company at lunchtime) had an Amnesty International meeting. My mom sent me an enormous bouquet of flowers which, although a nice gesture, only enhanced my awkwardness as I sheepishly walked the still unfamiliar halls.
On my eighteenth birthday my friends threw me a party in which my 3 best friends were some of the only people I knew. As one of my acquaintances quieted the room for a birthday toast I started to blush only to find that it was directed at someone named Paul. Tired from work and toting a freshly broken heart, I simply didn't have the energy to announce that it was also my day. I went outside to get some air, where my friends who knew me all too well followed and saw the tears well in my eyes. As far as I was concerned there was only one person I wanted to receive a Happy Birthday from and we all knew that wasn't going to happen. I was too embarrassed to tell my friends this was the reason for my sadness but they all knew it anyway.
The evening preceding my 21st birthday, Keikai locked himself in the bathroom with all of his possessions threatening to leave. I laid in bed and cried, watching The Office to distract myself from the pain. I was probably a few days pregnant. When I awoke, I had an uncomfortable guitar lesson, fought with mom all day and made my own cheesecake which I couldn't eat until the next day. "It's my birthday." I said to Tyler. He said "I know" and walked away. Nana forgot the significance of the day altogether. I cried myself to sleep.
The birthdays before and in between the aforementioned ones were the same, yet less dramatic variations on the residing theme; my birthdays suck. Somehow from one to the next I always seemed to forget the agony of crushed anticipation and come the 15th I would experience the same disheartenment year after year. This year however, in my new phase of enlightenment, I reminded myself to live in the moment. I implicated a mantra that this was simply another day in the grand scheme of my wonderful life. I woke up this morning, happy to be alive and feeling fortunate for all I have. I wasn't expecting a letter from the Queen or a private concert from John Legend (how great would that be????) rather just to spend this 22nd anniversary of my birth with the people I love. I awoke to a plethora of celebratory emails. I opened my window to have my baby brother scream Happy Birthday and offer me my "morning squeeze," something which he so often avoids. I baked all day and I had dinner with my dear family. I would venture to say that it was my best birthday ever, not because I went on a huge shopping spree or ate at an expensive restaurant, but because at this stage in my life I have faith that the life I live is great and it's only going to get better. I have justification to celebrate, not just on the 15th day of September, but on the other 364 as well.