I don’t always do a post on or around my birthday, but this year–today–I felt compelled to.
I woke up from having one of those dreams that feels endless and like it must be taking up at least an hour of my sleep, when in reality, it was probably five or ten minutes at most. Lockers the color blue, like the ones from my high school, were present. The locker number I kept going to or trying to find had the number 30 on it. (Perhaps I wish I were only turning 30?) When I opened said locker towards what felt like the end of the dream, I found bags with scribbled notes on them in my best friend’s handwriting. Some of the notes were sad.
I kept trying to find out what time the train was going to be leaving. Sometimes I was already on the train, speeding towards someplace (Washington, DC kept running through my head) and other times, I was in a station, waiting and trying to make the connection. Anxiety was there; my old friend and as of late, a more constant companion.
I woke up begrudgingly when the alarm went off and realized I took the day off from work. I got to do what I always want to do when the alarm is going off–turn it off and go back to sleep, without a care in the world! My first gift to myself: an entire day to do whatever I want without worrying about work–or that it’s Monday. Today, Monday is meaningless to me. It’s just a day in time. It is my birthday.
Despite that gift, my internal body clock would not let me sleep past 6:45, the time when I’m usually up and downstairs, waiting for breakfast. So I sat on the couch in my zucchini-colored robe, patiently waiting, while my dearest made me a delicious hot breakfast. And not just because it’s my birthday. Just because he’s wonderful like that, as he makes a hot breakfast at least three days of the work week. Another gift, and one that could be taken for granted over time, which is why I make sure to thank him for breakfast when he makes it, because it is not something I would readily do for myself.
We had just run out of coffee by yesterday morning. I remembered that the coffee I had ordered might have arrived on Saturday and perhaps the mailman tried putting it in our tiny mailbox. Lo and behold, he had. So we were able to have our favorite fresh coffee this morning without having to run out and get something separately. Happy birthday to meee. In lieu of birthday candles, a spoon stirred the cream into my coffee.
When I was a kid, things were the name of the game. Especially if they were pink. My Little Pony, Care Bears, Barbie, Sylvanian Families, Sweet Secrets, Popples…these all inhabited my existence. I screamed the house down the day I received a Funshine Care Bear. I don’t remember the last time I screamed upon opening a present.
Now, I squeal inwardly when I receive a book on spirituality that I’ve been wanting to read, or a gift certificate to Sephora, my favorite mecca of beauty products.
As a child, I fretted over who might not show up to my birthday party and being so happy when people came. (“You really like me!”) I remember ripping through the wrapping paper of all the presents, feeling impatient to get to the next THING, while my mother chided me to slow down, show my guests what I had received, and loudly chant, “THANK YOU!”
Today, I take more time to appreciate the real cards sent in the mail and the handwritten sentiments inside. I sit and actively cherish the people in my life who remind me I matter to them, that I am valued, that I bring something special to the table. I struggle with my self-worth, so the best thing I can bestow upon myself is kindness; letting myself feel truly loved; seeing that I have qualities which are considered wonderful to others; allowing the sentiments to settle in my soul without naysaying, ridiculing, or devaluing those statements with self-derision. I channel my inner Stuart Smalley.
I sit here basking in the knowledge that I have hours ahead of me to do whatever I want. Whatever I want. I’m almost paralyzed with this notion. What do I do first? (I’ll tell you, my first desire wasn’t to get all dolled up like the ladies of Golden Girls did. Even lounging, they were always dressed to the nines.)
The sun is shining. It’s a beautiful day. A lawn mower chugs in the distance, a sound that has always soothed me. I have a lunch date with a dear friend. My phone chimes occasionally with birthday texts.
It is otherwise quiet.
I feel loved.
I am thirty-four.