I hate birthdays.
Every year around my birthday I find myself falling into an unavoidable slump. It’s not like it used to be back when I was in my early twenties and we celebrated birth-weeks instead of days. Back then you were something special on your birthday–the queen of the night, the damsel to be doted on–and simply uttering “it’s my birthday” got you on the VIP list.
It’s even harder to compare today’s birthdays with birthdays of my childhood. Back then birthdays were the highlight of the entire year, just after Christmas and right before Halloween. In the weeks leading up to my thirteenth birthday, I was hit with a bout of insomnia. I was most literally too excited to sleep. I would sit in my bedroom, sweating profusely in the mid-summer heat of the night, fantasizing about my impending slumber party. I’d think about what I would wear and the games that we’d play. I’d triple count the number of friends who had rsvp’d. I’d estimate the birthday loot I’d rake in by multiplying each family member times their average historical gift. Then I’d visualize all the new school clothes I could buy with the money, and how cool I’d be rolling into 8th grade in a new pair of wide leg J’nco’s and contrasting Billabong T. My stomach ached with excitement, and when I could think of nothing else to plan nor additional calculations to perform, I resorted to putting together thousand-piece puzzles to pass the hours. Each dawn I’d pull out my notepad with my hand-drawn countdown calendar and scratch off another day. Twenty seven days down, nine days to go. Only nine more days!
Birthdays aren’t like that any more. If I’m being honest here, and trust me I am, there’s a part of me that wants birthdays to be special like they once were. These dark thoughts leave me feeling silly, guilty even, for wanting something so childish. Birthdays aren’t special like they used to be because I’m a grown ass woman now. Now birthdays consist of working (like a responsible adult), eating a sensible lunch, and dissuading conversations that start with “oh my gosh, it’s your birthday?” or “have any big plans for your birthday?” and especially “soooo, do you feel any older?” All of this unusual attention inevitably makes me feel devoid because no matter what I’m doing to punctuate the day of my birth it’s not enough. It’s no slumber party with 8 of my closest friends, it’s no free-shot-filled night on the town, and it’s most certainly no week-long celebration where “because it’s my birthday” serves as my steadfast mantra.
Today is my birthday.
Today is my birthday, and I am not this day’s princess nor am I this day’s queen.
Today is my friggin’ birthday.
Where’s my chocolate cake?