Anybody who knows me remotely well knows that my birthday stresses me out. A lot. As a child, I got used to my dad never showing up, and my mom occasionally showing up just to borrow birthday money I got so she could take a cab back to wherever she was staying. As I got older, it wasn’t always as simple a disappointment as having to work on that day. Instead, I’ve had to attend funerals, be stood up for dinner, have nobody show up to celebrate with me, no matter what kind of arrangements I try to make.
My birthday is lonely and reminds me of lonesome things. I’m significantly more sensitive on May 10th, and because of that, I try to keep it as quiet and low-energy as possible. If I get one day, one single day that is supposed to be mine, supposed to be my celebration of my own life, then I choose to do so by being around a very select group of people. People I care deeply about. People I feel I can trust and who won’t thrust me into something I don’t feel comfortable or compelled to be in
Yesterday, I feel I did a pretty good job.
I started the day with an influx of love and well-wishes from my friends. It always surprises me who remembers or takes the time, and it always surprises me when some people leave more heartfelt messages. It isn’t that I think I’m disliked, but rather that I seldom know how people feel about me at all.
I met a friend, her husband and mom for lunch. The friend was visiting; I had no idea she was in town, let alone for mother’s day/my birthday weekend, and she was quick to suggest we get lunch together. It was really great catching up with them, and getting an update on the cat her mom is taking care of. That cat was mine for a while, and we were best buddies. He weighed, like, 15 pounds and loved to sit on my chest with all the grace of a dumbbell. He’s a good cat, and they are good friends, and it was a good lunch.
I spent a couple hours at work after that. I didn’t do work (and knowing that I didn’t have to worry about returning to work after, say, a lunch was relaxing in and of itself), I just killed time and watched a little television. Lazy Sunday, indeed.
I followed that with dinner with a small group of people. Chicken, twice-baked potatoes, salad, corn, so much vodka and Uno. I took a gander out at the city from the deck, enjoying the sunny day, a pleasant break from the rain and gloom.
I did not win at Uno, but I was winning pretty hard at life.
My friend picked me up and drove me out to Kincaid park. We walked down a winding trail, densely packed trees on either side and came out to some sandy hills and a waterfront. The day was winding down and the wind was picking up, so we tucked ourselves in between two mounds and sat, watching the water flow.
This was peace.
She pulled some wine from her bag and we poured it into a couple cups. We did our best to cover it but still wound up drinking more sand than is probably doctor recommended. Still, being there, a good drink in hand, sitting next to a beautiful woman, the two of us alone with the mountains beside us and the world ahead. We talked, quietly, about our families.
I missed my grandmother a lot. This girl, she’s the only other person who calls her grandmother Tutu, a fact that certainly brought us closer in the early stages of our friendship. So I sat and thought of my Tutu, a woman who chose to adopt and raise me in her sixties, and my friend sat with me. It was probably the most perfect moment I could have asked for in the last year. Just a moment away from the city, away from everyone but this woman who ignites a creative fire in me, just a moment so I could be.
And I was.
Of course I risked ruining it when she swung me by the bar to see some friends, both of us staying far later than either of us had planned, with me drinking far more than my body wanted. I turned full confessional, not for the first time, with flowery words and extravagant feelings. She sat and she smiled and she listened with far more patience than I had any right to expect, while I sat and talked and talked, too dumb to lie, too drunk to keep it all to myself, but I was drunk on her, too, and on the moment, and if any time was the right one to get it all out, get everything off my chest, wouldn’t the right time be my birthday?
Fuck, no. Ridiculous. I should have never put her in a spot where she had to listen to someone rant about their feelings. And in an obnoxiously poetic way. Look at this:
“I could compare you to sunrises or sunsets, to the way the tide smashes against the sand in the depths of the night, I could compare you to deep breaths and the sharp tone of a piano key asked to perform after an intensive repair. But it wouldn’t be enough. You hoard my words.”
For Christ’s sake, what windbaggery.
And then, right before heading home, for some fucking reason, probably because I trust her and probably partly because I think I’m hurting somewhere deeply, always, I confessed that it’s hard for me to meet people because I’m emotionally erratic and I feel broken, and nobody wants to get too involved with a broken man. And she told me that I wasn’t broken at all. And then she gave me a hug for as long as I needed. And then she made sure I got home alright.
At the end of the day, from midnight to midnight, I received a ton of love from a ton of people. Hundreds, from all over the world. I got to see people I haven’t seen in a while, I had people checking up on me to make sure my birthday was going well. I had good food, good drinks, games. I had time to reflect, with good company.
At the end of the day, I came out and verbalized the biggest demon rattling around in my head, and a woman I respect and care for very much, one who inspires me in a way very few people do, didn’t even flinch.
I fucking needed that, so bad.
I’m very blessed to have the friends and family I do. I’m blessed to be loved by them and to be able to love them back.
Also, today I got this, which is the goddamn best: