Or perhaps it might be easier to just say . . .
Easier, but not nearly as kind.
Yep, I’m turning 30, people. Watch out.
I don’t know what it is. In my head, I see my birthday going something like this:
Okay, maybe I don’t have a law degree, own a snazzy off-white blazer, or work in an office full of colleague executives, but you get the idea, yes? A birthday should entail exorbitant amounts of doting, the culmination of one’s friends in the same room, compliments in which people specifically bring attention to my lack of crow’s feet and frown lines. And a cake — preferably a rainbow-chip funfetti cake.
But somehow my birthdays usually end up looking more like this:
Party for one?
As ridiculous as it sounds, birthdays can be tough on people. The matter is entirely arbitrary; however, for most, they bring all sorts of vast, abstruse introspections rushing to the surface, calling your attention to all the should have, could have, and would have’s, and illuminating in the ugliest light all that you have not achieved. This is of course is not the actual birthday’s fault, because, let’s just be real here, the day before and the day after one’s birthday are filled with just as many shoulda, coulda woulda’s.
But there is something about the actual day. It begs for our full and compliant attention; perhaps snarls is a better description. It curls a crooked finger, beckoning, glowing red eyes full of malice and schadenfreude, luring you into a pit of self-loathing and despair.
Silly, yes, but for some it doesn’t make it any easier with an accurate label. We are who we are, feel what we feel, for no other reason than the same reason that the dawning sky turns gray one morning and pink another. Some will relish their birthdays. Others will despise them. Many will fall somewhere in the middle. That’s where I am, I think: the middle. Maybe leaning a hair more toward despise than relish.
Which is why I stopped having them. Parties, not birthdays. If I found a way to do that, I wouldn’t be writing books; I would be tapping people on the head with my pink, sparkly wand.
“And to you, old crone, I relieve you of your laugh lines.”
“You, noble sir, I give you back your hair.”
“May you be hemorrhoid free!”
My mother-in-law’s sweet Lab — she’s pushing 13 — breaks my heart every time she attempts to lift her arthritic body off the carpet. It has come to the point where one of us has to assist her into the standing position, to which she then wobbles and vacillates out the backdoor and onto the lawn, hind quarters trembling, to try and relieve herself. Seriously, I can’t even watch, lest begin the waterworks.
I’m just going to say it. “GETTING OLD SUCKS!” Hair falls out where it shouldn’t, grows in places it definitely shouldn’t, joints stiffen, memory fades, appendages sag, and on and on. On the outside, it is pure hell. I have no reservations in saying that, because it is true. Aging is tough.
The parties, though? Those are not tough.
I have a couple amazing people in my life who expressed an interest in celebrating my 30th year on this planet. And rather than be a boob about it and whine and complain about all the reasons I don’t want a party, I acquiesced. Ashamed, I come to you and admit that, since making such promises, I have both whined and complained. The closer Friday comes, the more I just want to call the whole thing off, buy myself a Costco size box of Lucky Charms, and fly to Switzerland (except the part where I fly to Switzerland. Planes = *shudders*)
And since there is no one else here to do it, this is where I give myself a pep-talk.
** The part of Cara will be played by Cara. Additionally, the other part of Cara will be played by Cara as well.
“Listen here, Cara.” *slaps a cheek* “Quit being a brat. Rejoice in that you have lived 30 privileged, blessed, healthy years. You have way more than most, are loved richly by a few, and remain to be part of the small percentage of humans who actually get to do what they love for a living. Need I go on? Or are you getting the picture?”
“Jeez, Cara . . . all I said was that I didn’t want a party.” *makes mopey face*
“Don’t want a pa– Are you kidding me?! You’re trying to justify your stink face and griping by telling me you’re put-off by the idea of people wanting to celebrate you?”
“Well, I just–“
“No! I’ve heard enough! Lock it up, sister. I’m sick of your complaining.”
“You don’t need to get testy, all right?”
“Oh, I think I do, fool. I think I need to get testy all up in this place.”
“Why are you suddenly speaking gangster?”
“I don’t know. It just happened.”
And . . . SCENE!
As you can see, I ran away with myself there, but hopefully my point came across somewhere around the middle.
Fending off those voices that scream you’re getting old is a real thing. Most of us would say we are our own worst critics. This is a sad truth, but it’s one we need to be aware of. If not, we are subject to believing the lies that we are somehow less important, less special, less capable of achieving our dreams and hopes, simply because three hundred and sixty five days have passed. If anything, we more learned, more attuned with who we are and who we want to be.
So . . . when those pernicious voices begin to creep up on me, I’ll take it one gracious step at a time. I’ll remind myself that I am worthy, that I am beloved, and that age really, truly is nothing but a number.
That, and I’ll bust out my lightsaber and go all Princess Leia on their a$$.
Happy Wednesday, my friends!