You expect to feel different on your birthday. Or even look different. I remember when I turned thirteen examining myself closely in the mirror. I stepped closer. Apart. Closer. Squinted. I don’t look like a teenager. Has my nose changed?
Some people are “birthday people.” They tell the world, “it’s my birthday!” They invite you to their birthday party at some club until they are thirty-five. And thank god for these people. Without them we’d be stuck with “non-birthday people,” people who “get weird” around their birthday, who protest “don’t get me anything!”and then cry when you don’t.
At different points in my life I have been all of these.
Baby Boy, on our last night in the Dominican Republic you had a febrile seizure. It’s a seizure caused by a fever. Common in babies, happens to 1 in 25. You are fine.
F. Scott Fitzgerald has this powerful line about life with his wife’s unstable mental condition.
“I left my capacity for hoping on the little roads that led to Zelda’s sanitarium.”
I left something on those winding roads in the black of night in the jungle, returning from the hospital–if you can call that a hospital–petrified and clutching my son.
Trees are lucky, babies. They shed their dead leaves. We have birthdays, and that glittery nightmare that is New Year’s Eve.
Knowing now what its like to unleash a blood curdling scream out into the night with a child in your arms. Knowing now what its like to have nothing to do but plead to god. Knowing now what its like to foolishly blame yourself for circumstances beyond your control. Knowing now that life will continue to throw curveballs. Knowing now that in the end, you shed your dead leaves and move on…
I wake up today on my thirty-third birthday, different. I say eff it, I’m having another cookie.
I love you both,