I know they don’t need to be, but for me, birthdays are such a complicated thing. I always feel a little blue when my birthday is coming up. I never know what to do. And I always feel a little disappointed in myself.
It’s been a little easier since Lucas was born, because I always wanted to do something he would enjoy. One year we went to the beach. Last year we went to Sky Ranch in Tagaytay. And since our birthdays are only a month apart, I always deferred the bigger celebration (and expense) to December, for his birthday.
I don’t remember when I started feeling the birthday blues, but the most specific instance I can remember is 2005, when my father died. He passed away in October, less than a month before my birthday. It was really difficult, but I insisted that we do something nice on my birthday. I remember we drove to Tagaytay for a birthday lunch at Sonya’s Garden.
The birthday blues hit early this year. Last week I felt grumpy, and it took a tiny petty little annoyance to send me spiraling. I had a good chat with a friend, and I felt immensely better.
I know other people get birthday blues too. Mine usually revolve around the question, “Another year. What am I doing?” I haven’t really gotten any sort of counseling for this, but I think a lot of it also has to do with feeling overwhelmed with so much responsibility (whether real or perceived), and wishing that, for a day, I could be free of them.
Last week a dear friend celebrated her birthday, and she wrote that her only birthday wish was to not have to cook.
I suppose that’s something most people wish for: freedom from responsibility. A day without a care in the world. A few hours without worry, about work, or money, or health. A chance to be selfish, to not worry about anybody or anything, to simply be. I would love to sit on the beach, or on the grass, to enjoy the sunshine. I wish I could walk all over my beloved university campus, stopping for some ice cream or fish balls, exploring the new buildings that were built after I graduated.
I wish I could hug. There are so many friends and relatives I have not seen in months. Or perhaps I have seen them but I could not lean in for a hug or a kiss. I wish we could gather for drinks and laughs, for board games and movies, for gossip and rants.
I wish this pandemic were over. But I suppose that’s the same thing everybody wishes for, every day.
Barring that, I suppose I could just wish for more reasonable things. A safe, non-violent US election, whose results will not throw the world into chaos. A safe, affordable COVID-19 vaccine, available to all, but especially the most vulnerable. Better internet access for all the young people struggling to learn. Government officials who truly care for their constituents, rather than for fame or fortune. Families that shower each other with love and kindness, rather than cruel words and thoughtless actions. Peace of mind for everyone plagued with worry because the world is such a shit place right now. Better opportunities for persons with disability and women and persons of color and LGBT.
… Okay, maybe those aren’t very attainable wishes.
Simpler things, then. Good food would be nice. I have some wine waiting to be opened, and a few triangles of Manchego in the fridge. That’ll have to do for now.
Happy Birthday to me.