I love birthdays. I get that from my mom. She always made a big, huge, whopping deal out of birthdays, as it was “our special day”, a free pass to no chores and happy wishes, not to mention the spoils of such a day.
And despite all the photographs and the stories, the first birthday I really remember was the one when I turned six years old. I was in kindergarten and shared the day with another kid, whose mother chose to throw him a party in the park after school. All the kids were invited, even me, although my teacher was quick to point out that it was his day and his party, not mine. When one of my classmates also honored me with a gift, that same teacher made sure to let me know that I should consider myself fortunate to even be remembered at all. (So that’s where that neurosis began.) That same day, we also played the game where you eat saltine crackers and try to whistle. The joke was really on them, I played their game, chomped down as many crackers as I could and couldn’t whistle. Still can’t, crackers or not.
My next birthday, my mom baked me a cake and bought me a yellow dress to match my room.
Age 10. Went camping with my class. Was going to fix damper, got lice instead.
Age 11. Departed on a magical four-month road trip and that ended with us living in a beach house in LA until school started in the fall. They said the trip wasn’t for my birthday, but I think they were trying to make up for the lice the year before.
Age 12. Had a birthday party. No one wanted to come but their mom’s made them. We moved shortly after that, but I’m positive it wasn’t because of the birthday party fiasco.
Age 13. Got boobs. Really big ones! (Thank you, Mother Nature.) Dad bought a gun.
Age 15. Got contact lenses. Thanks, Dad! (He bought more ammo for the gun.)
That same day, my friends threw me a surprise party – I knew about it, afterall how much of a surprise could it have been when my teenage girlfriends called on my phone to talk to my mom and my mom kept making me change my clothes until I looked nice. My friends took me to pizza and a movie. Saw
Age 16. Ahh, the benchmark birthday for any young lady, and also happened to be the prearranged age when I could start dating. So, Dad thought he would take care of any boys coming around
. He sent me a singing telegram in public! The guy wore superman tights and sang to me. No boyfriends that year. (I can’t wait to do this for Ash!)
Age 18. Year 12, ASHS. Did something fantastic. Can you help me out, Reg, Dan, Mark, Lisa? What did we do?
Age 19. Mom threw a birthday party for me in Alice Springs, Australia, invited my friends, didn’t invite me. They ate cake and called me to wish me a happy birthday. I went to Disneyland with my friend, Mike.
Age 20. Surprise birthday party, the quick throw together shindig from my college “friends”, who, if they would have remembered the exact date of my birthday, would have sent me a strip-o-gram. Was it not enough that I got the singing telegram four years earlier that they needed to humiliate me in the dining commons at Stenner Glen with birthday wishes from a crazy, naked guy who did did strip-o-grams for a six pack of beer? They had a plan. It was foiled. I was much happier for the surprise party at Tom’s Apt. (Tom taught me to flick bottle caps. We listened to
until we wore out the vinyl.)
Best present that year: Bruce Springsteen’s Live 1975-1985 four-cassette compilation.
Age 21. Spring Break in Southern California with Barbie. Did what you do when you turn 21. Had a job interview the next day. Did not put my best foot forward.
Best present: Aquamarine earrings from my parents, and this really cute black and turquoise mini skirt with black tulle. (It was the 80s, and I had big, bleached blond hair, too!)
Age 22. If you were there, you remember.
Age 23. Spent birthday alone on Vashon Island, WA. I wish I could say it was a retreat, a day spent in meditation, reflection and focus. It wasn't. It was my first birthday out of college and in the real world.
Age 24. Saw
with friends at Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theater. Captivating.
Age 26. Mom and Dad threw a birthday party for me – and invited me – and took me to the zoo!
Age 27. B flew from Seattle to Colorado to spend my birthday with me. We decided to get married! (I must confess that there is a huge controversy about this…B thinks he was conned, I say it was his decision, blah, blah, blah…Yeah, so I did already have my wedding dress hanging in the closet. C’mon, it was on sale. Who passes up a one-of-a-kind Alfred Angelo on sale?)
Best present: B, for life.
Age 28. Had a wedding.
Age 29. Quit Smoking.
Age 30. Cried,
Age 31. Quit my high-powered, corporate-America, Director of Advertising job. Went freelance. Danced around my living room with glee.
Age 32. Spent my birthday at the beach with great friends. It was beautiful.
Age 33. Long weekend in Yakima. It was a long way from the beach. (B had a gig.) Our dog, Kelly had puppies the night we returned. We still have one of those pups, Squeaky.
Age 34. Bought patio furniture.
Age 37. Got pregnant.
Seriously, Pregnant, On My Birthday
. That was the best present,
The rest of my thirties were a blur, although I can number the birthdays in the last 15 years that B had band practice or rehearsals or gigs. On those particular years, we employed a more festival approach to my birthday. When he would say to me, “I have a thing with the band that night,” I just smiled sweetly and know that I get a birthday celebration that lasts for a week. These last two birthdays are no exception – no gigs, but festivals nonetheless. (It's now tradition.) And with these last two birthdays, I’ve fully embraced my “Decade Of Decadence”, and B has thrown very extravagant chocolate parties for me and ordered days of indulgence to follow. I always feel so celebrated and spoiled. (Last year, in addition to the party, B even bought me a brand new, hot rod computer with 20" flat screen monitor, tons of memory and speed.)
So, even this year, in the midst of my festival week, I wonder just what I am going to do with some unexpected birthday money: a belly button ring, a tattoo or a new outfit. What do you think?