According to all you students of heavenly-body rotation out there, a forty-seventh orbit of the sun is now complete since the day when I was expelled from my excellent mother’s insides. Thus I am now considered age forty seven, or in my “forty-eighth year”. All you ninety five per cent of struggling writers out there who get this wrong every time: you may want to take note of that difference! The age your character is and the year he or she is in – is always different! Never the same! A baby turns one year old after – not before – their first year, first summer, first annual everything – is entirely done!
I don’t truly subscribe to the idea of anniversaries of any kind. I will concede that it is a convenient way to schedule celebrations of people and relationships but I hold that ideally we should be celebratory every day. I feel the anniversary crutch is a string around our fingers to remind us to be nice to someone once in a while because at our core we humans are not naturally nice enough. I hope that people judge me for how I treat you every day, not how I generally ignore your birthday.
I do participate in birthday celebrations from time to time as a matter of choice, the same way a non-Jew might lack regard for the bar mitzvah concept yet attend said celebration out of respect for their Jewish neighbor. I don’t do it for the tradition but for the component activities for their own sake. Thus I often give cards to birthdayers which say nothing about birthdays.
As for my own birthday I would be perfectly delighted if it slipped by without being noticed by anyone.
As it stands, there are usually a couple people who insist on doing something about it and it’s really not a hardship to go along! Grandma insists on giving me a cheque every year. What can I do? She’s Grandma. She’s in charge. And this year Peter Pan, unexpectedly handed me a fifty! He was going through his safe looking at old legal paperwork, some of which still bears my name.
He told me to come over after work and he would make spaghetti to celebrate the occasion, and who am I to turn down food? Especially Italian food made by a bona fide Italian! And then he would take me out for lunch at a nifty Asian grill the next day!
As we sat, enjoying the dinner, I marveled once again at how easy it has become to be around him; at how peaceful he seems of late. He seems to have literally recovered from no less than three addictions. He seems not to need to be the centre of attention at every moment. The ADHD has softened. He seems less like the literary Peter Pan and at age 51, so much like an adult finally.
Our lives had once revolved around each other, and then through years, spun gradually out of control. We have now been apart for as long as we'd been together - whatever those words mean.
Some casual reference to our past bubbled up.
“You know,” I said, “I’m vaguely aware that we had a long history of treating each other terribly. But I never recall any of that. I only remember the good times.”
“Same here,” he said quietly; so remarkably present for a change. In our very different ways we have each found equilibrium.“Life’s too short to have it any other way.”