I love my birthday. While I absolutely hate aging, the presents and the cake help me forget that fact. I guess that’s the point.
I moved into NYC on my birthday weekend in 2008, exactly 2 years ago. I was turning 35, which sounded SO old at the time. Mid-30s. Ick.
I’d been living in Pine Brook, having spent the better part of the previous 3 years taking care of my mom. My parents just retired to Florida back in 2005, when she came down with a severe case of rheumatoid arthritis. It’s a crippling auto-immune disease, which attacks the joints and makes even the most simple tasks -- tying your shoes, buttoning your shirt, cutting your food, walking -- incredibly painful, and sometimes downright impossible.
Her illness came on like a freight train, and I did the only thing I knew to do. I brought them back home.
Those 3 years were tough, no question, but it was worth it, because with the help of chemotherapy, my mom is now doing much better managing this illness, and my parents are now back in Florida full-time. So my birthday weekend in 2008 was a time of celebration -- a fresh start for all of us. We were all getting our lives back and starting on a new adventure -- me in New York and my parents in Florida. It was exciting!
And it WAS a great year -- my mom’s health improved, my beautiful niece was born, and I’d met someone.
Last year, when I turned 36, my birthday fell on a Monday. August 3, 2009. I’d just come off a weekend of celebrating with my family and friends in Fairfield, CT, and was taking a train back to the city on Sunday afternoon. My ex-fiance (my boyfriend at the time), met me on the train as we passed through Stamford. I couldn’t WAIT to see him.
Just a few days earlier, he’d told me he loved me for the first time. We were on the phone, actually saying goodnight, when he blurted it out. I was totally taken off-guard. I even think it surprised him. At the time, I wasn’t ready to say it back -- over the phone just didn’t feel right. But sitting on that train next to him, I knew I too was in love and I couldn’t wait to get back to my apartment to tell him.
My birthday came at an early stage in our relationship -- I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. He poured his heart out in a card, where he promised to be mine. Always. He gave me two CDs he made for me -- the beginning of our Infinite Playlist. And he gave me a gorgeous silver cuff bracelet. Those things meant so much to me, but the ultimate birthday present was him. Finally having someone to share my life with. Someone to love. Someone who loved me back.
That was the most precious gift of all.
I’ve been lucky enough to have some amazing birthdays. I’ve gotten cars for my birthday. Twice! I’ve had surprise parties thrown for me. I’ve been sailing on a boat in Newport on my birthday. I’ve gotten iPods and TVs and handbags and presents in little blue boxes. I’ve eaten more cheesecake than any person should (always plain, always New York style, occasionally with strawberries or cherries -- on the side), and each year, my wish was the same: I wished I would find someone to grow old with. And I did! I thought my birthday couldn’t get any better than this.
It was #1 with a bullet.
So here I am. It’s 2010, I turned 37 today and NO part of me feels like celebrating. The card I got last year is packed away in a storage unit in Norwalk, CT, the box is labeled “Don’t Open This.” When I left his condo, I placed the bracelet and a stack of CDs -- each one professing his love for me -- on the dresser, along with a few other reminders I couldn't keep. This was all supposed to be SO different. I was supposed to be days away from getting married to a man I thought was the love of my life. It turns out, I couldn’t have been more wrong.
And now, on Day 1 of a new year, I’m completely overwhelmed by the thought of restarting my life.
Especially since I just DID that 2 years ago. And there were tears that day, too, but they were happy tears. I just can’t muster up the enthusiasm for a celebration this year. I will make 3 wishes, though. And I know you aren’t SUPPOSED to share your wishes, or else they won’t come true. But keeping my birthday wishes to myself didn’t exactly make them come true either. Obviously. So, here goes:
I wish I could not cry once for an entire week. Hell, I’d even take an entire day.
I wish I can find the strength to look forward and trust my own instincts again.
I wish I will find the courage to date someone new and believe what he says.
Maybe by the time I turn 38, these wishes will become reality. Time will tell…
tags: breakup, holidays