For many, birthdays are tantamount to Christmas. They are anticipated for weeks, planned with precision, and sources of pure joy.
I am not one of the many.
For me, birthdays are tantamount to tornadoes: there is a slow ominous build-up to possible activity that either fizzles out or causes major destruction.
That’s not to say I haven’t had good and happy birthdays–I’m sure I have. Like the time my parents threw me a surprise party before we moved to Montana. That was pretty great. Granted, it meant celebrating my birthday a month early, but I was okay with that because on my actual birthday, I hadn’t made any friends yet in our new city.
And there was the time in Ohio, when I was so, so sad because my Aunt Sherry had died and my friend Matt lost his son to leukemia, so my dear friend Peggy and her family essentially kidnapped me and took me to a play in Huron, Ohio. And my parents have always been sure that I have celebratory materials, even when I was on my mission in Canada, and in grad school.
But I’ve had my share of lousy birthdays, too. Like when I was nine and I had pneumonia. Or when an ex-boyfriend decided it would be a good day to call me up and tell me everything I did wrong in our relationship. Or when my two best friends–who really are great guys for the most part–went GOLFING and left me waiting ALL DAY and never called, so I thought they had just forgotten about me, and by the time they did call I was so angry I didn’t want to see either one of them.
It’s my birthday week, and I have many reasons why I’m dreading it this year. Today I have to say goodbye to my sister, who is moving to Japan for three years. She’s arranged to be with me on pretty much every birthday for the past 6 or 7 years, so I’m a little bummed that won’t happen this year. My birthday has also been the signal that school is starting again–and soon. And sure, I’d like to do something like go out with friends, but it feels so narcissistic and self-serving to plan my own outing for my birthday.
Like Christmas, my birthday is just another reminder that despite the amazing friends and family, I’m ultimately alone. And most of the other 363 days of the year, that really doesn’t bother me. But those two days…it’s hard for me to think of much else.
So I might gather one or two friends and grab some sushi and catch a movie and watch another year of my life slip by. I do have quite a bit to celebrate from the past year, and while I doubt it, maybe this coming year will be just as awesome.