There are some people who will tell you that they don’t like celebrating their birthday. Maybe they don’t. Or maybe they do but are trying to…be cool about it, or something. I’m not sure I get these people. You will never hear me say that I don’t like celebrating my birthday. Ever. (I mean, probably. I don’t know what the future holds.) Why? First, because I think that having lived for another year is cause enough for celebration. Which I’m sure doesn’t surprise those of you who have picked up on my preoccupation with mortality. And secondly, because it’s the only day of the year that is MINE.*
Growing up in a large-for-our-times family, there wasn’t a lot of stuff that was just about me. I think my peers who grew up in “normal” or “standard” sized families in the same or similar socioeconomic circumstances experienced many things that were all about them because as an only child or one of two or three children, the focus had to be very much on them either all or a large portion of the time.
But in my family, everything was about us. The collective. I’m not saying that my parents never paid attention to me or that I had an unhappy childhood. That wouldn’t be true. I never felt that I got less attention than any of my other siblings. And I did have a happy childhood. (I mean, aside from my experience in Catholic grammar school which I now realize wasn’t so much unhappy as it was all sorts of weird, but that’s a story for another day and has nothing to do with whatever stereotypes you’re thinking about right now.) I actually liked the independence that being a part of a big family afforded me. Having the freedom to go sit in my room and read Anne of Green Gables when I wanted to without someone nagging me to do extra credit projects or practice the piano for another hour was the fucking best. Also, when I felt like being social, I could walk downstairs and wrangle some of my siblings to play school or WWF. It depended on whether I felt being domestic or violent that day.
But my parents had five younger children and, at least when I was a kid, I think that they made decisions for all of us based on what would be best for the greater good rather than an individual’s desires. Our activities, our schedules, our meals, our everything was planned out with the needs of everyone in mind. Anyway, I’m not using this space to complain. I can do that another time. I’m just saying that my familial circumstances are probably a big part of why I’ve always been super into celebrating my birthday. It’s my day! How could I not be excited about a day when everyone wishes me well, tells me nice things about myself, gives me presents and drinks a few too many drinks in my honor.
So, how did I celebrate myself this year? I’m sure you were wondering.
1) I took the day before my birthday off. My birthday was on a Saturday this year, so I cashed in a precious vacation day so that I could relax a little before I partied the next night. I spent the better part of my day hanging by a pool. And that night, I had dinner with my family. My mom made chicken and some other stuff and a really adorable and delicious cake.
2) On my actual birthday, I woke up at my parents’ house and my mom took me to Trader Joe’s and then drove me back to Greenpoint. This is, quite literally, what I asked for as a birthday present.
3) I got some nail art! Liza and I went to get our nails done at Primp & Polish. She surprised me with this little cupcake! We were really happy with how our nails turned out.
4) I received awesome presents from my friends. Some of them included: a first edition of Lucky Jim with original Edward Gorey artwork on the dust jacket (seriously, this gift was almost unfair in its perfection), Adventure Time paraphernalia, tickets for Neutral Milk Hotel and a really lovely dinner with some of my best pals. Yay! Thank you, all!
5) A PARTY! Vincent and I had a joint birthday party at t.b.d in Greenpoint. We had a fantastic time with so many of our friends. And we ended the night with karaoke, which is how all of the best nights/days/everythings end.
I really did have a great birthday and am so grateful to everyone who helped me celebrate. (And also, thanks for indulging me in my lengthy explanation about why I love my birthday so much.)
*My birthday is also a yearly reminder that my brother Aidan was NOT born on my birthday. Seriously, the months preceding my 12th birthday terrified that I would have to share my big day from then on. Luckily, Aidan was born two days later, on August 5th. (Happy birthday, Aidan!)