It's My Party
Today is my birthday, I'm turning thirty-six. It's not really a significant milestone and I'm kind of hoping that Jim will let it slide but somehow I don't think it's going to happen. We've been friends and roommates for almost a decade now and to this day there are still things he doesn't quite understand about me... and how I feel about my own birthday is definitely one of those things.
Even though I've asked him not to do it more than once, he still insists. Each year he tries to do something to celebrate somehow, and while I appreciate the feeling and I know he has good intentions the fact is that it's not that simple. The truth is that I hate my birthday and it has nothing to do with me being afraid of getting old. My birthday's always been a reminder of what I am and what I'm not... or at least that's the way it used to be and that is something I've never been able to overcome, not really.
I remember how when I was little I used to pester Naomi half to death to celebrate my birthday like everyone else did but I didn't usually have much luck in that regard. No matter how much I begged her, pleaded with her and nagged her the fact was that Naomi wasn't really big on birthdays to begin with and that meant that more often than not the way in which my birthday was handled depended on how whoever we happened to be living with at the time felt about the whole thing... and that was on the years in which Naomi actually happened to be there for my birthday in the first place. It wasn't like she ever thought it was important enough for her to come back to be with me wherever it was that she'd left me whenever she happened to have taken off to do whatever it was that she did half the time.
Yes, I admit that this is the one instance in which I'm still kind of bitter about that, even if I'm not entirely sure why.
The fact is that most of her boyfriends didn't really want to be bothered with my birthday so more often than not it was barely acknowledged and I hated that. I remember how badly I wanted the big party back then, how I wanted the friends, the fuss and the presents... how I wanted my birthday to be like those of everyone else. As an adult I can say that I probably just wanted to have someone there who felt my birth was worth celebrating. It never really happened... well, almost never.
There was one year that was different. I was about to turn nine and we had just moved in with a guy who was pretty okay and he decided to make a fuss, he decided that he wanted to give me the big party with lots of friends and lots of presents. We spent a full week planning everything, he asked me what I wanted and how I wanted it... for once I was going to have the birthday I had always dreamed of. I remember the day in which he took me shopping for the decorations... I was so excited.
That was the last time I ever even tried to celebrate my birthday.
When the big day finally came I was up before dawn. I simply couldn't sleep and even though it was ridiculously early I was basically glued to the window. I remember that everything was ready, there were trays with sandwiches, and bowls of candy, balloons and a huge cake that actually read "Happy Birthday Blair!" so I sat and I waited for my friends to arrive... and I waited... and I waited.
After a couple of hours the guests began trickling in, first one and then another and another... and in my big party, the one I had always been waiting for, the one I had hoped would be like those of other children there were a total of five guests... well maybe eight if you count their parents.
I kept waiting for the others to arrive but they never did. In a way that's when I learned that my birthday wasn't something worth celebrating. That was what one of Naomi's boyfriends had said to me a couple of years earlier when I had asked about a birthday party but it wasn't until that day a couple of years later, when I finally got my party and as I waited for my friends to arrive, that I learned he had been right.
I'm turning thirty-six today, I'm no longer the child I once was and I don't feel the need to celebrate. I just want to get through this day like I would through any other day but I know it's not going to happen. I have friends now, friends who think my birthday is worth celebrating but it's not... not to me anyway.