With my birthday fast approaching, I probably ought to wax poetic. The truth is, it just isn't working. How important is a birthday anyway? Do you remember yours? Let's see . . .
For my childhood years, we always had simple at-home parties. My parents would take me out for crab, which was my favorite food. Often, we would lump my brother and my birthday together and go somewhere especially awesome for dinner (like a dinner theatre, for example).
At 15 years old, I had a bunch of my girlfriends over for my party. My brother had a few of his friends over too. (Were my parents crazy? He is three years older than I am). Anyway, being the dangerous type of high school freshman girls, we challenged them to Trivial Pursuit. Yeah, the girls won. Girls rule. Boys drool.
At 16 years old, I was completely snowed in by myself - parents made it to work, but school was out for the day. My high school BFF (who just sent me a card - smile) arranged for a clown to show up at my door. The clown was wearing a heavy overcoat on top of her costume and the helium baloons drooped down to her waist in the cold air. I spent the day writing a paper for school. (My BFF was the lynchpin for the Entertainment category in Trivial Pursuit, by the way).
At 18 years old, I recall standing on the sidewalk in Georgetown (suburb of D.C.) in the snow eating ice cream. Why was that a good idea?
At 19 years old, there was a blackout in Cambridge. Some seniors rewired their stereo through the emergency exit and we had cake and the party by flashlight. When the lights remained off, we decided to all go over to Boston together. MIT disappeared as we walked across the Harvard bridge (which was a pretty amazing gift to this not-so-brilliant freshman chickie).
At 20 years old, I was in the hospital recovering after having a very prolonged high fever. My hospital roommate had been admitted for depression. My dad and sister showed up, washed me like a car wash and asked one my friends to invite more friends to come to the hospital room. They brought in a cake and take-out Chinese food, and made the room feel as crowded as a Tokyo subway. My depressed roommate had such a good time, she was released the next day having been cured of her sadness.
At 21 years old, I was taken "bowling" in Harvard Square. Enough said.
At 22 years old, I went out to dinner in Boston and Julia Child sat a few tables away.
At 23 years old, I moved to Japan a few days before my birthday with three empty holes in my mouth where my wisdom teeth had been the day before I left the U.S. Undaunted, I walked around my new office asking strangers to go to dinner with my on my birthday. Not surprisingly, I ended up with a very rowdy group of young Australian men who revelled in the strange request - and knew the underbelly of Hiroshima far too well. I must have paid that cab driver who took me home. I probably paid him 10,000 yen, who knows?
At 25 years old, Setsumi threw a huge party for me in Hiroshima. She rented out a whole bar, arranged for food, and invited 50+ of the people who in two short years had become family. THAT was a fabulous birthday.
At 26 years old, two days before my boyfriend became my fiance, I told him I wanted to go ice skating on my birthday. We went to the ice rink in Hiroshima, where I met a woman from the Hiroshima Collectors ice hockey team who convinced me to join their league. What a blast.
At 30 years old, I was interrupted from studing for a finance exam for my MBA to attend a surprise lunch held for me by the wives and girlfriends of my husband's friends. I didn't have much time to make friends those years in Michigan.
For most of my thirties, I have made my own cake which my children decorate. I'm guessing that after awhile it will look less like a pile of frosting, M&Ms, and sprinkles and more like a cake. Or, maybe they'll make it like that even when they are in their 20's because they know I can see the love in it. I also made it a point to sneak away with girlfriends after the children were tucked in, and my hubby and I have gone out as well (all fabulous).
At 39 years old, my girlfriend gave me my birthday party.
At 40 years old, well, I'll make the most of this one too.
I am told it’s my 40th year,
And perhaps there is something to fear,
But I haven’t the time,
To waste on the sublime,
Instead join me for some birthday cheer.
For entertainment, I’ll give you this clue,
A great band will be playing for you.
We’ll dance and we’ll twist,
You get the gist,
With luck our husbands will join us too.
Please leave your gifts at the store,
I am too old to accept any more.
I drank your bottle of wine
When I turned thirty-nine,
This time please just walk through the door.
This is the big 4 – 0h,
You have no choice but to get up and go.
Without you, my dear friend,
I might not dance to the end,
And pretend that it just ain’t so.