I have survived yet another birthday. I am getting better at birthdays and surviving the cakes/’what is the plan’s/what did you do’s/when are you getting married?s!
If you too struggle with birthdays, feel ‘why can’t we just skip the day’, anxiety, foreboding, fear of expectations (yours and others), I see you, I feel you, there are more like us, this is normal, I promise.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy growing old, I just don’t like the day we decide to celebrate it on. In 2020, I finally disengaged the day from the life. The day is wrought with expectations and burdens of the past disappointments, but growing old has been a pleasure, it gave me wisdom, a voice, more space in the world and it gave me a steady step to balance myself. Every year when I look back on the little and young Ps I feel like giving them a hug, but I would never ever trade places with them.
So R and I celebrated one more year of me becoming more of myself with food, songs, alcohol and watched movies that made us pause them to laugh and catch our breaths; not on a particular day but on convenient evenings when we had the time, energy and no early morning commitments.
I was reminded of many blessings, most of which are the community of kind and solid people I belong to. Friends who know my feelings about birthdays and protect me. H sent balloons, littul Instaboy sent a french press with a note “I hope the sun feels sweeter and everything a little warmer, click more 4pm pictures”, K gave me a mood cup, pooja gave me a harry potter and the prisoner of azkaban, which was the only book missing from my set because it was taken away, fought over and never returned, mending this tiny hole in my metaphorical sock of a life. I asked R for hair ties and cute head bands, A sent a graphic novel and a traveling paint set I had my heart set on and a made me a greeting card and a bookmark with praises on them. babyr gave me her baby Panda. R got family and friends to sing for me and mumma sang a kind hindi song and papa gave me 57263 packets of Bourbon. And none of the kindness made me anxious.
I didn’t have to do most of the things I did do in the past to survive birthdays: the script for phone calls, a new habit each birthday, the gift list of things I could use that people could gift me instead of giving me a diary. It is useful and helps in managing expectations. This year I bought myself everything from my birthday list. A harmonica, a Zara perfume, hair color.
The day too wasn’t bad either. I drank french pressed coffee, got to talk to S who would otherwise never call, cooked Kerala food, answered all the ‘what gifts did you get?’ humorously “Papa gave me the greatest gift of all; money!”, all the ‘did you cry?’s gracefully “Wouldn’t you be worried if I didn’t?” and did the non-optional self-analysis kindly.