My birthday’s on Monday. Yay.
In all honesty, I really hate my birthday. Not turning older, though. I actually love that part, and it certainly beats the alternative. But the day of… just not a fan.
Almost every year, something bad has happened on or around my birthday that has made me cry like a five-year-old who can’t hit her damn piñata. They range from the birthday party at nine where I invited ten girls and only two showed up to my 30th birthday where I left Orange County, my home of nine years, behind immediately after my celebration. Needless to say, I’ve been conditioned to hate my birthday.
I don’t believe in any of it. Cards? Not my thing. If you have ever gotten a card from me, it’s either because I love you to death or my mother made me do it.
Birthday cake? I just got back into my skinny jeans. I’m cool without cake.
Balloons? I swear, if you pop one in front of me, I will pop your balloons. Take that however you want.
Everyone expects you to be all excited. “Ooh, my birthday! Yay, a party!” And if you know me, you know I love a good party and celebrating everyone else’s birthdays. But people expect you to do something special for yourself. Or rather invite a whole mess of them, slip on a super-sexy dress and have a full-on bash.
So you have to plan: Where am I going to host this thing? A restaurant? The park? A dumpster… I mean, Venice Beach? Then you have to do the social game. “Well, if I invite X, I can’t invite Y, but if I invite Z, I have to invite A, B and C, multiply that by P and then divide by Q. Now how many quests is that?” I had to hide from the GMAT on account they weren’t going to give me a calculator. You seriously want me to do math here?
I’ve watched girls make their birthdays into circuses, creating nights in fancy restaurants and renting out bars. But sometimes I wonder how far it’s gotten. There was one girl several months ago who was trying to reserve a bar and was talking about other people’s events happening over the course of the month. There was one guy in particular who was causing her a lot of problems, and she started griping, “It’s MY day!” Like a bridezilla.
Really, is he going to be wearing the same dress as you? Is he walking down the aisle to “At Last” by Etta James when you swore it was your song? Another reason to be scared of birthday party planning: Because at the rate this could go some random person is going to ask me to marry them. Again.
Culturally, I’m supposed to be excited because I’m another year older. I’ve gotten through my 31st year intact and I’m about to begin anew. This year was difficult in many ways: A job loss, a new freelancing business, closure from a previous life chapter and the heartbreak of my mother’s diagnosis. There were quite a few tears and several moments of clawing at the walls and wondering, “What am I going to do?”
And yet these are coupled with some of the most beautiful images I can think of. Sitting across the table from my best friend in her favorite red-clad ‘50s diner in Whittier eating French fries. Four girl friends in Los Angeles dancing around an apartment to “Happy” as a hyper seeing-eye dog joined in. Giggling on a pool table in downtown Los Angeles on a Saturday night with my adopted baby brother. Singing/screeching with my roommate in the car. Drinking a pint of Guinness with my father for his birthday. Finding peace in my college best friend’s wide smile in the north of Israel. Walking along the Tel Aviv boardwalk with Jaffa lit up as a beacon in the night to reach that beautiful boy whose kisses I couldn’t get enough of. And opening that ziploc baggie filled with folded notes, joyous tears streaming down my face from my reunion with the Kotel in Jerusalem, standing tall to make sure that each of my friends’ wishes made an appearance there.
And I remembered something important about me which I forget constantly: If fate allowed, I was never supposed to have a 32nd birthday. In fact, I was supposed to die at 21, long before I finished college. But no matter how hard things get in my life, I stand tall. Given all the circumstances of my years on this planet, from abusive relationships to medical crises, the fact that I had a 31st year, let alone this one, was downright miraculous.
Now I’m going to be 32. I’m not ashamed of that age nor am I afraid of it, because it’s mine. I’m looking forward to the wonderful things to come, especially when I take the boat to have a day trip in Catalina. A birthday is not about a party; it’s about life and what makes it worth living. So I’m doing this birthday the way I’m living my existence: My way.