Tuesday, November 10, 2009

November 9, 1983

Mom makes pot roast and soft white cheesecake, the Saturday before my birthday.

Monday is my birthday.

As I jog with Penny in the morning, I think about the birthdays of my childhood. I do not remember specific parties or presents, but I remember that birthday feeling of remarkably emotional fragility.

At noon, I walk into work. Nobody sings and nobody says obligatory Happy Birthdays in horrendous high pitch apologetic voices.
"Oh! It's your birthday? Happy Birthday!"
"It's your birthday? Happy Birthday."
"Yeah, thanks."
"I didn't know that! Happy Birthday."
It is always a chain reaction of blush and retreat. Therefore, I keep my birthday a secret.

After work, I pull into our dark driveway, disappointed. There are no balloons on the mailbox and no parked cars of friends. I don't need a surprise party, I tell myself. I just had a wedding for selfish's sake and before that a surprise wedding shower was thrown for me. I don't need a surprise party.

I don't want a surprise party.
A couple friends. A couple friends with a cake would be nice. No, I don't need that. It's Monday night. My friends are tired and so am I.

I don't want to see anyone anyway.

Maybe Scott got me a cupcake or something.

But Scott hasn't any baked goods for me. When I get home, he is working silently at the desk. I make his lunch for the next day and ignore the dishes in the sink.

Later I lay in bed speechlessly disappointed that my night has reflected the normalcy of my day. I haven't blown out any candles, I think regretfully.

I have to wish something, don't I?

I thought I had outgrown it, but I haven't and I don't expect I will. Forever on the evening of my birthdays, I will hope for the lights to be dimmed and for my mother to walk out of the kitchen with a birthday cake covered in brightly burning candles.

Tonight, Tuesday night, I am drinking a beer, eating two bowls of popcorn and lighting candles.

I'll make a wish when I go to bed.