Monday, March 28, 2011
My twenties were all about big birthdays. I liked to have big parties, excuses to invite everyone I knew and drink (even) more than usual since everyone is buying you drinks. The birthday party is the day where everyone shows up, even if it's just for a drink, because it's your birthday. You are surrounded by all these people you love and it's just magical! It's the high school equivalent of having your locker decorated so everyone knows you have friends who spent time cutting out letters of your name and coming to school fifteen minutes earlier to paste them on your locker, along with cutouts of Jared Leto and Mylar balloons tied to the handle.
My 29th birthday was an odd party in the middle of sobriety and following a life-changing week in the desert, and I remember spending most of my party feeling anxious and waiting for the peripheral invitees to leave so I could spend quality time with the besties.
Last year, I spent my 30th birthday in the middle of nowhere by myself, and I sort of figured it would pretty much signal the end of birthdays for me. It's a different sort of celebration to have a birthday by yourself, where nobody can reach you with wishes, there's no cake, no candles, and the little part of you that misses that gets tamped down by the part of you that realizes you truly don't need that shit to feel festive.
This year, I sort of thought I would have a big party to celebrate being back in San Francisco, but my family showed up and then the idea of a party a week later sounded so silly that I might as well wait for next year, or at least an occasion where something cool is being celebrated--like, hopefully, the "publication" of my first e-book, which should be soon. I thought it would be more fun to have some sort of accomplishment to celebrate, because I'm really tired of alternately bitching about or avoiding the topic of my employment status.
But I've realized that the birthday party isn't just about making the birthday person feel loved and happy, it's a time for your buddies to feel good about being your buddy. You show up, you give love, and this makes you happy for being the good friend who shows up to the party. And having a birthday party, I've realized, is also a way to remind people it's your birthday so they can wish you a happy birthday and not feel like a dick later for forgetting. Without the birthday party reminder, I've realized, people forget and then they panic and wonder how to make it up to you. But you don't have to make it up; it's not a big deal. Birthday wishes are still nice a week or a month later. It's not about the date, it's about the hugs and kisses and gratefulness to not have died yet.
Besides, I still don't know the birthday of my friend J, and I've known her since we were five years old. I was her maid of honor. So there. And let's have a party, just to have a party. It can be a celebration of anything, and yes, it can still involve Mylar balloons and cutouts of Jared Leto.