That is, my birthday. For some reason we westerners get culturally smashed over the head from birth on that this day should be the most beautiful day of the year, the perfect day, joyous, that nothing on this day should go wrong, that you should be showered with love and affection and presents, live happily ever after, ride off into the sunset, etc, etc. And then one day you’re an adult and you’re birthday expectations have been artificially raised so high that there is no way they can lead to anything but trouble.
Wouldn’t it make more sense if birthdays were a day to celebrate mothers? Afterall, they’re the ones who not only went through the pain of birth on that day, but actually can still remember it. Though I suppose it is pretty neat to be able to say, “Well looks like I managed to make it through another year without getting killed!” Which really is quite a feat when you think about it.
Last year around this time I was in Colorado staying with Sleeveless. Fucking Colorado. It feels more like several lifetimes ago, and yesterday, and yet the calender is inisisting that an entire year has passed in the meantime.
And last year, as usual, my birthday turned out to defy all expectations, high or low, the birthday curse, the curse of placing any sort of special weight on one particular date that isn’t inherently signifigant in and of itself. The night before a few people got together to drink beer and whiskey, we yelled hurrah at midnight, nothing exploded, so far so good. The next day, the actual day of my birthday, I was suddenly told I had to leave a day earlier than expected so as to not miss my flight back east, I was sitting over a huge beautiful goodbye dinner and crying instead of eating, I was driving with a friend of a friend to Denver. I drank Budweisser with an exerberant, eccentric white-haired muscician named Ken, and then got propisitioned by the random (old) driver (could be my grandfather) friend of a friend because “you’ve probably never been offered a full body massage before” and “I just really want to do something special for you on your birthday” while trying to sleep on the roof of a community center in the middle of warehouses and slums in Denver. It all turned out all right in the end, but wow, didn’t see that one coming.
Now, with my birthday still a few weeks off, years of strange birthdays have me already anxiously wondering how to escape the birthday curse this year. If I avoid celebrating entirely will the universe find me and take out its birthday revenge twofold? And if I do celebrate, where will I end up this time?
My best birthday in recent years was the big 2-4 in North Carolina, and involved a costumed, drunken bike rampage, a ghetto blaster, and just one tape: Purple Rain. Long live Greensboro, North Carolina. At 25 there was a picnic on a river and a smaller bike gang, all of which ended with me falling asleep inside of a large corporate sculpture where a security guard later shooed me away with his flashlight. Twenty-six was the Denver, Colorado roof top fiasco. Now 27 is coming, marching slowly towards me with a devilish grin on its face, and I am nervous, unsure if I should embrace the approaching event or run for cover before it’s too late.