I’ve been joking for a long time that this year’s birthday was going to be my last. I remember hearing a lot of jokes growing up about women who just stopped counting their ages after 29 and started counting years of experience instead. It feels a bit weird, to be staring thirty in the face. I realized much to my horror that a third of my life was now officially behind me, and that thought scares me like few ideas can. The Moody Blues once lamented in a song, “It’s not a lot / It’s all you’ve got / Twenty-two Thousand Days.” Have I really seen that many sunrises?
I think the fact that this is the first thought that comes to mind on having a birthday last Saturday shows just how afraid of death I really am. This is still a source of surreal amusement to me, even as I lay awake at night shivering and wishing for the dawn. In my past, when I professed to atheism and hated my life, death held no fear for me. Now that I’m not so sure what I believe, I find myself plagued with thoughts of what Death is, and what being dead is like, if anything. Now that I love my life, I’m afraid of its end.
Birthdays, however, should be a source of celebration, not of mourning. They should be a mark of rememberence and recognition for a person, honoring zim and reminding zim of the importance of that person in one’s life. If Thanksgiving is my holiday of choice on a grand scale, then birthdays are the individual complement thereto.
They’re a chance to give that kind of recognition to the individuals that are important in one’s life.
Pity I couldn’t stop panicking about mine.
Now, to be utterly fair, it’s my own fault. I totally forgot Jessie’s birthday this year. I even forgot the day I normally think is Jessie’s birthday but isn’t. It wasn’t until two or three days after that that Jessie reminded me it had gone past, and I felt utterly horrible for days afterwards. It’s still embarrassing to me, to not celebrate a day so important to me.
This, however, set me up to thinking that Jessie would forget mine. Zir memory is notoriously bad for things like dates and times, which is why zie has the Visor in the first place. I don’t normally go out of my way to make a big deal of my own birthday ’cause I’m not good at making a fuss over myself, despite my ego. So, I had done nothing to really advertize that it was impending, and Jessie had also said nothing in the days before, so I really didn’t know if zie knew or not.
The day before, when Bennie dropped me off at his place so I could pick up my car after work, I noticed a number of cars in his yard and asked if he had something going on over the weekend. He mentioned that a number of people were visiting, and so in my little mental ledger I struck his and Sue’s names off of the list of available people, and since I knew Kelly was working and everyone else has headed out of state again, I got it into my head that anything birthday-related would be Jessie and I doing something special together.
Jessie gave absolutely no indication whatsoever of having remembered.
Saturday morning, I get up and say “I need to go to the bank” and there’s some discussion as to whether or not Jessie wants to come with or stay home and do laundry. The only catch is that we have no quarters to do laundry, and Jessie says zie wants to go to the laundromat. I say we can go to the bank and get quarters there, and Jessie half-heartedly agrees and then plots down on the couch in typical cat-fashion and lazes about online while I spod in front of .hack for a few hours. Jessie makes no suggestion of later plans.
At 15h00, I make Jessie get dressed and come with me to the bank. I bank with Navy Federal Credit Union, so
my branch is on a naval base, and the new CO has decided to confiscate all the standing base passes and require everyone who doesn’t live on base to get day passes every time. This eats up an extra fifteen minutes while I rummage in the glove box for my registration and fill out the added paperwork to get onto the base so I can deposit my paycheck. The base pass has, in bright green numbers and letters, the date, which is of course my
birthday. Jessie says nothing about this, but I don’t ask because I’m not going to push the matter.
We get the quarters, but on the way home I realize we have nothing in the house to cook and so I say we need to divert to Sam’s Club on the way to get supplies for the week, and Jessie looks a bit irritated and says we really need to get home to do laundry ’cause zie’s got no clothes for work tomorrow, but I persevere and get what I need, then start heading home. Jessie says in the car that zie should call Mom when we get in, but that’s
On the way home, I ask if we have any plans for dinner. Jessie shrugs non-committally and suggests we wait a while adn asks me if I’m hungry. I say that I’m starting to get there and suggest that if Jessie can’t think of anything to do I’m going to cook alfredo. Jessie asks me to hold off for a while ’cause it’s not dinnertime yet.
Finally, I can’t stand it and I say, “You know, today was my birthday.” All day I’ve been growing antsier by the moment ’cause the only people that remembered were my parents who sent me an e-mail (Thanks, Dad!). I was afraid if I waited until the day after to say anything I would be too upset to say it reasonably, but I also felt miserable at bringing it up in the first place ’cause it didn’t seem like my place to remind other people of that kind of thing. If they remembered and wanted to do something for it, great. If they didn’t, it wasn’t my place to ask
or demand it.
Jessie’s reponse was, “You broke a lot faster than I thought you would.”
As it turned out, Jessie had in fact been setting something up for the last two weeks and had been trying to out-laze me and get me to go off on these errands by myself so that zie could pick up my birthday present,
but I had been supremely uncooperative and refused to go alone. Further, I had not given Jessie the time to call Bennie and Sue and let them know when we would be going to dinner, ’cause Jessie had invited them to join us and they had accepted. So, Jessie let the whole charade drop, making me feel like a total doofus for all of about thirty seconds until I could laugh at the whole affair.
Dinner was wonderful. It’s always good to go to the Outback, but this time was special: Bennie told the waitress it was my birthday, and they served me a twelve-ounce prime rib with a candle in it. I got really embarrassed and flustered, but I really did enjoy it. Then we went to Borders and Jessie got me my gift, a copy of Alice in Wonderland to read to me at night so zie can practice zir voice at home and not feel silly talking to zirself like I
Thank you all again.