Sunday, October 19, 2008

one day you'll look back and you'll see

Sometimes you just have to own it. Today is my birthday. I am not sad on my birthday. It's a rule I have; I made it when, on my 18th birthday, I acted like my birthday was the biggest tragedy ever witnessed. I didn't really get over myself at that point, mind you. It's just that I moped around acting like it was a day for sullen, melancholic dejection. And then the person who wound up being the most important one of my life in so many ways gave me an extremely elaborate card with the following words in them:

Allow me to say that it's possible to be critical of birthdays; they always seem to mean more to others. I mean, what does your birthday really mean? I don't know. If it's up to me, I'd rather celebrate my second birth. The one that brought my independence. The day when I first thought for myself- not of myself. So if your birthday doesn't seem to mean much, I hope this does.

If I've ever been cranky around my birthday (oh and I most certainly have), it's because no one could measure up to that. Especially as I was coming off 17 years in EBF, feeling as invisible as the air. Finally, someone saw me, didn't try to snap me out of my funk necessarily, but fought fire with fire, countered with the perfect combination of words and logic. I don't write about this often, and I won't really write about it today either. But what was written articulated a thought that I needed put down.

The idea of a second birth. It's funny to read those too-mature words now. Neither of us were quite there yet, neither of us had quite learned to think for ourselves. I was further behind, of course, a symptom of an overprotected adolescence. But I loved the idea. Eventually, I did come into my own, did stop operating without the net of expectations and automatic decisions. And I'll always have that. And I always think of that on my birthday now, how the words in that card were like a self-fulfilling prophesy of sorts.

I remember, though, that I had written back (and so began this obsession with words and putting them down and trying to make them mean something) that life is an interminable cycle of births and deaths. But we're always changing, the song used to bemoan. The person I was at 18 is not the person I am today. Perhaps I do believe in reincarnation. Constantly, some piece of us dying and some other new piece born. Some part of the original remains, or so I hope.

Maybe that is why people are not as enamored of their birthday as the years pass- so much more to realize, so many more pleasant surprises, and you still think the best of people. Later, things seem somehow less. There are still changes, shifts, births but they seem like small moves compared to the earthquakes of the past. But they're not really that small, it's just how they seem. This morning, a very well-meaning classmate insisted on taking me out to brunch. I forced myself not to fight it, and I am glad I didn't, because it was actually quite nice. When I was young, I would have made a big deal out of nothing, made things difficult simply because they did not fit some perfectly-envisioned plan. Instead, I was content. Not just content, but, even though he wasn't the perfect person to go to brunch with, maybe especially because he wasn't, I was really touched he had forced me into it. Then I went home and finished baking cakes. I know it's weird to bake a birthday cake for one's own birthday, but that's what I wanted to do, so I did it. And all in all, it was a good day, a very good evening. It might have even been enough of a good day to have cleared the tough climb. But that remains to be seen- tomorrow.

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