Every year the inevitable happens; I grow another year wiser. Each birthday has significance in some way, big or small, and my birthday that took place a few days ago was no different. Except this year’s birthday took place in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, but honestly, all my birthdays considered, it wasn’t my worst birthday.
Should I start with my best birthday then work towards the worst? Should I instead jump straight into the sad ones? Something I could do is stress the most memorable of the good and bad. Sometimes the milestone ones loom largest in my memories, good or bad. Sometimes the smallest moments bring the sweetest smiles.
So, starting with some of the best birthdays means starting with my twenty-fifth birthday, an odd one of course, but one that supersedes all others. Sometime in the middle of my work day, back when I had my own office with four walls and a door near the sales managers at the Claremont, my parents surprised me with a floral bouquet delivery complete with a deep blue vase. Still to this day the vase has its own spot on display. Small, special gifts make a big impact. Sixteen was another special birthday moment – my parents gave me a car – a 1986 Mustang. So many times the who surpasses the thought and the what, so all that remains in memory is the who. So the main thing I remember about my twenty-first birthday is who I celebrated with: friends I am still in contact with today.
As awesome as those birthdays were, because of all the birthday party happiness in my youth, like Skateway parties, slumber parties, and daytrips to Disneyland, I had high expectations for birthdays and was greatly disillusioned on my nineteenth birthday, the top winner for worst birthday ever. Another bad birthday was my thirty-third because my (at the time) husband decided to do absolutely nothing for my birthday; he acknowledged the day but didn’t even get me a card (disclaimer: I am terrible at remembering birthdays so I probably had this coming?). And expected me to cook dinner (disclaimer: he was and still is the better cook, so I may not remember this right). Another birthday that wasn’t great fell two days after my twin sons were born over a month early and so, therefore, I was kicked out of the hospital while my preemie sons stayed in the NICU for another three weeks.
Yes, birthdays have a way of coming whether we are emotionally, mentally, and physically prepared for them or not. Yes, they can find us at our weakest moments and at our best moments. Yes, they mark the passage of time, another year older, another year wiser. Yet, when I even think of dreading the next birthday and consequently turning another year older, my mom is quick to ask: but what’s the alternative?