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Birthday Wishes

Today is my birthday.

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


jessica said...

Oh Jen. I wish I could give you a hug right now. Birthdays are tough under these circumstances. I totally understand how you're feeling. Do you think you will hear from him?

Roger said...

Those aren't wishes - they are inevitabilities, because they all will come true. I know it.

I hope you're sticking to your tradition of getting a big, indulgent gift for yourself, because you most definitely deserve it.

Anonymous said...

Don't give him the satisfaction of ruining your birthday. You should celebrate your independence!

Anonymous said...

Are you in town? I hope you got a chance to get away and clear your head. He was a fool to let a girl like you go.

Anonymous said...

Aw, Jenny. Hope you had an ok birthday. It can only go up from here!!!!

Anonymous said...

On behalf of everyone who reads this blog, I'm sending you good wishes for the coming year. You are loved!

Jenny From The 'Brook said...

Jess: Thanks -- and no, I didn't expect to hear from him. I doubt I will ever hear from him again, which makes me incredibly sad.

Rog: Aw, you're so sweet. Thanks so much for the encouragement. As for the gift... I did get an apartment -- does that count???

Anon #1: Thanks, but I hope he wouldn't be satisfied to know I had a sad birthday. Besides, I would be shocked if he still read this silly blog, so I doubt he even gave it a thought.

Anon #2: No, I'm in Florida visiting my parents for the week -- I couldn't stick around and stew.

Anon #3 & #4: Thanks, appreciate it!

Anonymous said...

I hope you had a fabulous birthday and celebrated you! He seems like a total jerk to do what he did and like his only priority is himself. I hope you had the best cheese cake ever!

Anonymous said...

Anon #5: You only know one side of the story, and while it sucks I'm sure she's not blameless in all of this. There must be more to this story that we don't know.

Kadee said...

Anonymous #6: Do us all a favor -- if you cannot be supportive Jen (since this is HER blog, afterall) then STOP with the comments. The man who caused her this pain and misery is a cold-hearted, self-centered fool and any comment in defense of him is not welcome here.

Anonymous said...

Glad to hear your mom is doing better. You are a very good daughter, not many people would put their lives on hold like that. You have a good heart. Sorry someone didn't treat it with the care it deserved.

Jenny From The 'Brook said...

Anon #5 & Anon #7: Thanks. He didn't used to be this way, so either he was a great actor, or something changed along the way.

Anon #6: True, this is one-sided. And I'm sure if you ask him, I'm the one to blame. Just don't really know what I'm to blame for. And certainly there's more to this story that you don't know, like the fact that the last time I saw him, I made him so uncomfortable with my sobbing that he packed a bag and stuck a $20 in my purse so I could take a taxi to work and went to stay at his mom's house. That's my last memory of him. Some things were just too painful to share.

KK: I heart you.