I am not much for holidays. Perhaps I lack that sentimental gene, or maybe I just don’t understand waiting for some arbitrary day to celebrate. But either way, I only look forward to the holidays that mean I will get to miss work. I am fond of New Year’s Eve, but only for the drunken debauchery. I think Hallmark has swindled us all with Valentine’s Day. I mildly enjoy 4th of July, but mostly because I enjoy anything that involves beer and grilled hot dogs. I don’t get into Halloween because I don’t have an extreme sweet tooth and I don’t really require an excuse to dress like a whore if I want to. And any long time readers know that I would prefer Christmas not ever come around for me again.
I said all that to say, holidays don’t really do it for me.
BIRTHDAYS, however? I go hard for birthdays.
I buy gifts months in advance and plan parties and dinners. I make travel arrangements and demand people wear crowns announcing them as the official born day reveler. I organize trips to get tattoos and piercings and vibrators and that drink you set on fire before you shoot it. I cook food and mix drinks with a heavy pour and pick out club outfits and scout the perfect 24 hour diner at which to have a hangover breakfast. Really, birthdays are my opportunity to celebrate the people in my life, relish them being born and fete the fact that I get to see another year with them. Birthdays are important to me.
Which is why it’s such a shame mine will be so quiet this year.
Usually for my birthday, I am travelling. Firstly, because travel is the love of my life. And secondly because most of the people I love and would want to spend my birthday with are in states that are not the one I reside in. But this year, like most other years if I am being honest, my birthday snuck up on me, in no small part thanks to the fact that in a short three months, I have gotten in a car accident that rendered me carless, gotten my best friend married, broken my own heart a little bit, travelled to Jamaica, and countless other little things that have fragmented my stride and pilfered my time.
And now, as usual, I am blindsided by my birthday. It’s fucking April already.
As I usually do around this time, I reflect on the last year and size myself up against where I am and where I thought I’d be. To be frank, travelling or not, surrounded by friends or family or alone, the last few years I have fallen short of my own expectations.
And maybe that is part of why I am wearily side eyeing my birthday this year, willing to let it slide by with little pomp and no circumstance.
I am 28 and not where I want to be in my life.
“Where”, part metaphor and part literal state of being, has been the cloud hanging over my head. The last six years I have become a well versed student in solitude. I have taken long walks with silence. I have sat, completely still and unmoving, next to alone. I have curled up to wrestle through fitful bouts of sleep with only loneliness to spoon me.
This birthday will be no different.
It’s not lost on me that I have finally learned the lesson that no man is an island, a warm and fuzzy idea I fought almost the entirety of my life, and now I can’t seem to get back to the people I love so ardently and wholly for the life of me.
Thanks for that, Universe.
So, today on my birthday, as I have so often in the last few years, I will try to smile and enjoy my day and ignore the loneliness that settles cold in my chest. I will appreciate the friends who’ve grown to love me despite my penchant for slow dancing with seclusion, who will drink with me and make sure I get home safely. I will turn a blind eye to the longing to be closer to my friends and family that tugs at my heartstrings. And tonight, I will fall asleep, happy in a melancholy way, grateful to have seen another year, even if I have fallen so short of where I thought I’d be.
Today is my 28th birthday. Wherever you are, have a drink for me. I’d like that very much.