My birthday began with the water-
Birds and the birds of the winged trees flying my name
Above the farms and the white horses
And I rose
In rainy autumn
And walked abroad in a shower of all my days.
from Poem in October by Dylan Thomas
Uh, not quite (except for the rain). My birthday week began with my husband’s car breaking down on his way to meet me for a special birthday dinner. I picked him up at a gas station, where he was parked in the dismal rain, and the evening grew stranger and less festive from there.
We did go to dinner. Or I should say, we went to a restaurant. Not long after we ordered, I found myself sweeping our entire, uneaten meal into a bag for a hasty getaway, while my date wobbled outside on the curb, struck down by a sudden ailment. As I told the server, “If this were a first date, it would be an F. But I have been married to him forever, so it’s a B-.” And at that moment, I realized I was wildly tipsy, after a cocktail imbibed with no appetizer, (never again). I ended up wobbling down the sidewalk toward my husband, who was forced to rally and stuff me into the car. I estimate the area of my liver to be two inches square; without dinner in me, I am one giggle fit away from drunkenness before my first sip.
We recovered by morning, in time to make the rounds of volleyball, play practice and our children’s friends’ houses while our second car languished at the mechanic’s with recalcitrant spark plugs and green (that’s bad) break fluid. I then caught whatever the car had, and developed a cold that made me UNABLE TO TASTE ANYTHING. Desperately seeking wellness, I dragged myself on my first trip to Peace Love & Raw in downtown Olympia. “How is your energy level?” the young juicer inquired. “Nonexistent,” I replied. She nodded meditatively and sifted some powder from an unmarked bag over the blender that contained, among other items, a clove of garlic.
When the energy enhancing effects of the juice took hold with a zing, I vowed to go on a juice fast! I vowed many, many things, having – for the first time – utter mental clarity! Yes! Yes! I would cleanse! A couple hours later, out of my mind with hungry crankiness, I abandoned my cleanse and decided to get a pedicure instead.
I know that being able to sit in a chair while someone deals with my feet makes me privileged, and I want to make my awareness of that clear. I also want to acknowledge that I am breaking one of two rules I set for myself when I started my blog (1. Don’t mention feet, 2. Don’t mention pets). But I have to share my birthday joy with you, Eaters.
I was puffy, congested and weary, but settling into the pampering, when the woman next to me started talking about aging. She prattled on, and I made a noise of agreement at one point, about the various indignities of the process. She turned to me and said, “Are you 60 yet?”
Eaters, I am turning 45, not a young looking 45, I admit, but I do not look 60. She then told me my cough sounded dire and that she was sure I had the “stuff that hangs on for a month and it’s baaaaad.” I dashed for the door, wet nails akimbo, before she could suggest a good coffin retailer. This doesn’t seem possible, I know. But I wouldn’t make this up.
Later, I laughed. Ah! The universe was testing my equanimity. The universe should know better, since I have none. But here’s what I do have:
a friend, Kirstin, who made me a birthday cake and bought me sparkly earrings and a cup that said, “Keep Calm and Drink Tea,” (I most definitely will follow one of those orders)
another friend, JJ, who brought me chocolate and a pile of food magazines, (isn’t it lovely when people know what you want?)
a lovely neighbor, Chris, who I have talked to and handed leftovers to, across the fence for 8 years, and who came to see me on my special day,
a BFF who assures me my gift is in the mail, 😉
a daughter who wanted me to teach her to make fudge on my birthday, (we added macadamia nuts because fudge isn’t decadent enough)
another daughter who loves to hear about how she was due on my birthday but was late, (I wanted to have her before I turned 32, since that’s when my mom had me, but it didn’t work out. On my birthday, this daughter said, “Isn’t it weird that you had your first child at 32? Doesn’t that seem old?” Go easy kid, I ‘m having a hell of a week.)
a husband who once gave a me a small cup with holes in the handle, designed to strip the needles from rosemary sprigs and catch them. It is wonderful to be known by someone, and still loved. At my advanced (not quite 60) age, I am wise enough to know it is a blessing to have someone to teeter on the curb with, suffering mystery ailments in tandem outside a nice restaurant, in the rain.
As always, I am grateful for a life filled with love, and cake.