Yes, it’s my birthday. The anniversary of when I showed up in this world and a nice reminder that I’m still here. Also a nice reminder that I’m older and that much closer to not being here.
Cue the narcissistic, self-pitying music.
I know they always say, “Age is just a number!” which is really one of the dumbest things ever. That’s like saying, “Words are just letters!” “Obnoxious finger gestures are just phalanges!” Obviously age is a number, but it isn’t “just” a number. It places you in some category. In a generation. In a checkbox on the AARP website. It’s way more more than just a number. It’s an identity.
I used to have this theory that while everyone ages at the same rate, most people hit an age and then psychologically just stay there. Sometimes they hit that mark way before they actually get to that age. Those were the kids in high school that were like 35 year olds when you were 17. Or now, even people that are younger than me sometimes seem older because they were always like 50 year olds. And the opposite is true as well. Some people are tragically trapped as 5 year olds, behaving as such when they are pushing 40.
So even though it’s my birthday and I’m older, I don’t really feel older. True, I’ve changed physically. I’m noticing gray hairs and lines on my face. It’s harder to lose weight and easier to gain. My knees sometimes hurt. But I still feel like I can cartwheel down a hallway and definitely not act my age. I’m always balancing that with the very real fear of looking like one of those older people trying to look young and cool. Or like I’m perpetually in the middle of a really bad mid-life crisis and none of my friends have the heart to say that I look ridiculous.
It’s great that it’s my birthday, and that I’m alive and all that, but at the same time, I’m still in shock when I think about how many years I’ve been here and even more shocked that at the same time, it doesn’t seem like so many years. I wish I knew when that transference occurred – the moment when the years sped up and time suddenly seemed a lot shorter than it had before. Or that moment when my backache switched from “I must have been holding the baby wrong” to “Oh my God, it must be cancer.”
Actually, I can pinpoint the exact day that last one happened, but still.
I always get philosophical on my birthday, but the truth is, it really isn’t as big a deal as I make it. The melancholy mood, the pensive stare, the pondering on mortality quickly give way to the cake and ice cream and homemade cards that sprinkle through the day. And Facebook becomes a virtual drive-thru surprise party, with hundreds of friends dropping by to say Happy Birthday on their way down their newsfeeds.
It’s true, I’m older. My kids remind me of that with funny cards and good-natured jokes. My younger ones were literally born in a completely different century making the divide that much more surreal. But even so, regardless of all the annoyances and aggravations that getting older brings, the alternative is definitely not an option I’m rushing towards.
So happy birthday to me – another year older, another year grateful to sit and write a birthday post from a mature, adult, perspective.
Which means I’m still eating that cake and ice cream. And maybe play a round of musical chairs.