Wednesday, August 12, 2009
it's my party and i'll cry if i want to
I don't know why I even try. Every year I hope my birthday will come and go like a thief in the night, and instead, it comes like a tidal wave of love, thoughtfulness, generosity, and surprises. Seriously. I never talk about it, after all, who wants to be reminded that she is 32? It's not on the calendar, I do not bemoan my senior discount to friends. Yet without fail, at the end of every birthday, I am rendered so utterly humbled, often to the point of tears.
Sunday night I was waiting for Todd to get his Jeep-loving ass off the computer so I could post on Moxieclean, lest my early-rising New York Moxlings brandish their customary shyness. Even the Brits are more understanding. Anyway, Reilly was with my mom and Todd said she'd "be home soon." The next thing I knew I woke up upside down on the couch, suffocating in my robe, which I thought was a straight jacket, and so utterly disoriented it took me a while to realize the house was filled with streamers and balloons. This is something I have done since Quinn's first birthday, and though they expect it, it's still sweet to see them wake up and see how much their birthdays mean to me. So this year, my mama-lovin' girl, with my mom as her co-conspirator, waited with Todd, who apparently stayed on the computer until I passed out, decorated the entire house herself, laying out my presents, cards, just like I do. I was so taken aback, and yet not surprised. Quinn had been enlisted to help, but he has grown three inches in six weeks and is only awake 15 minutes each day now. He was seriously dismayed to have missed the covert mission, and raised his head in apology, then grew a mustache a fell back asleep.
This was a bittersweet birthday for several reasons, mostly because 32 is inarguably in the 30's, whereas with 31, you can insist it's on the cusp, like with astrological signs. By all rights I should be 28, which is where I was when I slipped and fell into a deep, toxic landfill, wherein I toiled in futility trying to spin poison into gold. In retrospect, I'm lucky to have only aged four years. I certainly spun my wheels long enough to have been turning 90.
We had a full day of play groups, Reilly's Humane Society class, coffees, etc., so I was going to do my online rounds in double time. That is, until I saw 405 Happy Birthday wishes clogging up my inbox and facebook. My eyes had just stopped stinging from my sweet girl's surprise, and now everyone I knew had thought of me. I really was completely overwhelmed.
The day before I had visited Emily, and she had pulled out this really cute little origami box she made, and was showing Big, while Elyse grabbed for it so desperately I seriously thought she was going to turn into a werewolf. I was secretly covetous, because the print was really cute and I like shit like that. So we sat outside for like twenty minutes before she handed it to me and said "Here's your birthday present." I was really surprised, and overjoyed (yeah, it's that cute). Then I realized there was something inside. I opened it with a deaf ear to her bullshit disclaimer about how it was nothing, and immediately burst into tears. No seriously, you can ask her. I may even call it sobbing. She had found non-lame little motivational sayings and cut them out, by hand, in circles (omg the tedium of that was reason enough to cry), with a toddler, broken ribs, and then made the box. The first one was and will always be my favourite. The implication and meaning of this gesture is too deep to describe, it was simply perfect.
Seriously, I didn't even know Emily knew my birthday. I am still emotional about this gift.
When I got home Sunday night, there was birthday mail, and I noticed a card from Gail, who already sent me a fabulous book earlier in the week. But leave it to her to make the extra effort. Inside the beautiful card was an even more beautiful Starbucks gift card, kind of a tradition with us. She said I had to have a birthday coffee on her. First I laughed, picturing me on her, then realized she probably would not appreciate that, and instead, I cried, obviously.
-Having Deborah all to myself, thanks to her thoracotomy and lack of blanket, and subsequent need to sublet mine.
-Giving Brian a pedicure, only to discover that his Crocs are not in fact too small, his mom just sucks at clipping his toenails.
-OMG Toby curled up in my lap like a kitten for almost two hours. I told his mom I wanted to take him, and she didn't call the police, so that was good. I am so in love with Toby. It feels biologically wrong that he belongs to someone else.
-Deborah treated Quinn and me to lunch, during which we sat F-A-R away from the kids and had a conversation that, well, sort of changed my life.
-FINALLY got the word that the super-ghetto last-hope piece for my fucked-up phone had arrived, and went to pick it up. Got it gratis because it was my birthday.
-When I got home my mom was there, who, along with my kids, had made me a cake, which was suddenly thrust into my face. Holy shit I thought my body was going to become engulfed in flames. Evidently, so did Quinn. No, I could not blow out 32 candles. It took two blows (sorry Gail, I'm just a filthy heathen).
Rei eating an "R" off my cake:
Quinn at the ready with a gallon of water: (Um, he was deadly serious, there was so much fire, lol.)
-Presents, Jesus. I am always surprised by presents, and I have a very strong aversion to opening them, even with family. I will seriously let them sit there until the children are gnashing their teeth and wringing their hands in desperation. I can't even remember everything, but my Reilly went and stocked up on every size and version of my favourite scent at Bath & Body (Dancing Waters) because she heard me tell someone they always discontinue the ones I love. I now have lotion, shower gel, and a separate little bag FULL of anti-bacterial bottles, which I totally hoard. I was amazed, and few things make me happier than a bag full of anti-bacterial gel. She also got me a bag of my guiltiest candy loves from that horrid by-the-pound place wherein you think you're getting one sour thing and eight Jelly Bellys and it's $14.95. But damn, watermelon slices... Quinn and Todd played it safe with an Old Navy gift card, very sweet. My kids always insist on spending their own money on gifts. My mom got me a caddy I've been coveting, some radical bumper stickers which are ill-timed in our current social climate, but are motherfucking rad, an Old Navy card, and more money than I am willing to admit accepting for a major indulgence I found online. I tried giving it back even. God. I can't even bring myself to order it.
-Other highlights include, after numerous death threats to the Verizon technician and myself, I finally got this really dumb-ass piece working and had my phone back. You have no idea the luxury of a QWERTY keyboard after having to use the home phone for a week, which made me furious and arthritic. Normally I hate voicemail. Well no, I totally hate voicemail. But once I powered my phone up, I had zillions, from people near and far, including a super sweet message from my beloved big brother Sky, asking me to please call him, which made me cry. Also, so many texts I almost slit my throat. That wasn't as fun.
-The simple fact that amidst my infuriating phone-tastrophe, lots of folks texted or called both phones to say feliz cumpleanos.
-Karen texting from Seattle to tell me she was smoking a clove in my honour. I thought that was really sweet, but also really selfish inasmuch as I was neither smoking nor in Seattle, lol. I was flattered that she thought of me.
-A surprise pedicure from an unlikely source.
-An unexpected call from an old friend from the coast, from whom I've not heard in years, like five. We worked together at the place where Todd and I met, and it was surreal and incredible to talk to her. She's a bit older and someone I admire infinitely.
-Finally, I also got an email from a woman I met when we were teens, who is Egyptian, and with whom I had lost touch for eight years. I mean, when I say people crawled out of the woodwork, I also meant the sand. (Hi Julie! Hi Maha!)
-I love birthdays but hate the part where everyone comes over and messes up the kitchen with plates, wrapping paper, ribbon, frosting...I know I'm an ungrateful bitch. The kids asked if they could spend the night with Kevin at my mom's if they cleaned up, and there was no way I could refuse such a deal. They straightened the entire living room, wiped down the dining room table, swept and Swiffered the kitchen, wiped down the counters, stacked my presents so I didn't throw them away out of reflex, did the dishes, kissed me, and asked me 45738639875 times if it hurt my feelings for them to leave on my birthday. I reassured them, they left, and I immediately cried and wanted them back.
So I'm staring down the business end of 32, and it's going to be fine. I've got the best kids in the world, the finest crop of friends anywhere, and I can finally hold my head up high...high enough to see the signs that say "Warning: Toxic Landfill."