My Turn Soon

My birthday comes nine days after my son’s. While I was technically in my thirties when I had him, for all intents and purposes I was forty. So it’s easy math. I’m forty years older than he. (Good thing, because I’m easily thrown off by simple computations. This keeps things tidy.)

I share my day, May 7th, with Tchaikovsky and Brahms. While my ex was never sentimental about his own birthday (he shares his with Mozart), I am always rather fond of mine, and have always chosen my movements through the day with gentle consideration. When I was in my teens I would visit a lily of the valley patch by the banks of a neighboring canal, and just sit there, in quiet. I have always set time aside on each birthday to be alone in nature of some form. I wrote a song for myself when I turned 17, and it’s become something of a tradition that I play it for myself on that day. It’s a little melancholic thing that expresses a nostalgia for things lost and almost lost, a mood that I often found myself in for many years of my early adulthood. Its sound brings me back to the memories of that home, how the afternoon sun would throw the trees’ shadows on the stucco wall of the piano room, the sound of the cars rumbling over the canal bridge as I sat alone in the woods…

I can hardly recount the things I’ve done on my birthdays past. I can recall only a few out of so many. One I do remember was my 6th birthday. And I remember it because my mother made pink lemonade ice cream cake. I wonder if Elihu might possibly remember a childhood birthday decades hence for some such detail. I remember my thirtieth – a nice gathering of both my day job friends and my musician friends. I wore a serpent bracelet around my upper arm. I remember thinking at the time that I was chubby and unattractive. Sheesh. Couldn’t wind that snake around my arm these days.

Elihu suggested the family go to the Wishing Well for my birthday dinner. I was pleased with this; it’s a place that hearkens back to a pre-expressway America, with a silver-haired waitstaff, a floor of sound-muffling carpet and a sense of unrushed elegance in the room. I’m glad he made this lovely suggestion, for I have no real desire to go anywhere, to eat anything, to do anything special. My life is absent of much heartfelt and zealous desire these days, rather my energy it turned towards my list of things to learn and make here on my homestead. While these goals do represent a desire of sorts, they don’t have the same inherent element of excitement and energy as say, performing might have. I’ve been trying to think of something that I might enjoy experiencing on my birthday, but so far nothing much moves me. I’d like to take a walk in the woods and have some time alone. I’d really love to have a hundred dollars and a couple of hours to browse through some pretty clothes in a store. Neither is an option, so I will try to accept the day as it presents itself. Accepting what you’ve got is really all you can do.

I always consider a birthday to be as much the mother’s as the child’s. And for that reason I’m glad to be living here next to my own mother. It’s nice to be here for ‘her’ day too. I just wish we weren’t such a financial burden on her; she’s the only one in the family with a real job. She’s pulling us all along, and in fact, it will be she who picks up the hefty Wishing Well tab if we go. I so hope having her daughter and grandson next door makes up for it in some way. Most years on my birthday I have mom recount the story of my birth. It was a barbaric time in 1963 as far as labor and delivery went. They actually strapped her wrists to the gurney as she labored. No comfort was given, no movement allowed, no nothing. I can hardly believe it. I’m guessing that folks might even have been smoking in her presence… My mother was rather progressive for a woman in the midst of a culture that embraced invasive birthing techniques and encouraged drug-assisted births. She was adamant about having a natural birth, and in this atmosphere, with no advocate on her side, she stayed her course. (BTW – what the hell is natural about being strapped down as you deliver your child or having your entire pubic area shaved before you give birth?) I like to have her recount it, because it’s my way of affirming that this day also belongs to her. Elihu himself, on his own birthday one week ago, said “happy birthday to US, mommy”. He knows. Ok. I’m on deck…

One thought on “My Turn Soon

  1. Permit me to point out what you already know: Taking care of family is the most precious thing in the world; even if your mom is working her tail off, the satisfaction of having her family nearby and together and safe is more than worth it. I guarantee that every night as she falls asleep, her heart is smiling. She takes care of you, you take care of Elihu, Elihu takes care of his birds–what could be more beautiful?

    But you knew that, right?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.