Ah, September! That most blessèd month! When the oppressive, destructive heat of summer begins to abate, the leaves on deciduous trees turn to autumnal colors, a new school year begins (at least in the U.S.), and new network TV shows premiere. The autumnal equinox has come. My tomato plants are dying and many of the flowering plants have lost their blooms and are going to seed. Which means that decorating season approaches!
September also means my birthday… that’s right. Today I am officially another year older.
It isn’t one of the big, decade shift birthdays. The big five-oh was a half dozen years ago, and the bigger six-oh is still a few years off. But for some reason as this one approached, it was feeling more like a major turning point than usual. Maybe I was being a little bit psychic and knew that we’d find out just before the birthday that our building was going up for sale and there might well be very big changes in our living situation by the end of this lease period.
Or maybe my subconscious knew that my first birthday after Dad’s death would churn up feelings. Which would be understandable if we had had a normal parent-child relationship. But since he virtually never called or otherwise acknowledged my birthday (sometimes my stepmother would send a birthday card — at least once she made him sign it), is surprising. To be fair, I almost never sent a card on-time to him on his birthday, even though it was only six days after mine.
What usually happened is at some point in September I’d make a little promise to myself that this year I would buy and mail him a card by my birthday. And then I wouldn’t think about it again until several days after my birthday—sadly what would happen is I would realize I barely had time to get a birthday card in the mail to my grandmother, which would remind me that Dad’s birthday was a few days before her and that meant it was already too late to get a card to him by his day. So the few years he did get something from me, it would arrive a few days late.
Of course, because he’s gone, I probably won’t be asked a dozen times if I’ve heard from him. That has been a common occurrence on every birthday and major holiday for decades: relatives asking if I’ve heard from my Dad, then reacting with varying degrees of sadness, surprise, and disappointment to my reaction to the question. It didn’t seem to matter what my reaction was, whether I simply said, “no” or if I was a bit more forthcoming, “Naw, I haven’t talked to him in, uh, six years?” They were always dismayed. Even the few times when I could say, “I got a card in the mail” didn’t go over well.
I get it. These are relatives who go to the trouble to call all their siblings, children, nieces & nephews, et cetera on their birthdays and such. That’s why they’re contacting me to wish me a happy birthday, after all. My mom’s side of the family has always been big about birthdays and anniversaries. So I get why they’re always at least surprised.
It’s nice to be wished well and reminded that I’m loved. Which I have been.
So far what I’ve done to celebrate is get together with friends to go see a cool movie that opened on Friday: the remake of the remake of The Seven Samurai. Appropriately enough, the first American remake, The Magnificent Seven with Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, James Coburn, Robert Vaughn, Charles Bronson, and Eli Wallach premiered in theatres just a couple weeks after I was born. It was a movie that was shown on TV many times during my childhood, and it seemed like everyone I knew loved it as much as I did. So when I saw a remake was coming out with Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Vincent D’Onofrio, and a bunch of other stars, I knew I had to go see it.
It was fun. It was great to meet friends for dinner, drinks, and a movie. Saturday Michael took me out to dinner at my favorite restaurant. Today we’re getting together with one of my gaming groups to do some Victorian sci fi adventuring. I have also taken Monday off from work, and I’m planning to pretend tomorrow is Sunday and watch the football game that my DVR will be recording while we’re gaming today.
I’ve gotten some cool presents, which are always fun. Two different people got me wonderful socks. I love comfy, colorful socks! I’ve also gotten a hand knitted scarf, an old movie I love, cool figurines, my very own Tardis key, brilliant purple ink, some books. Getting anything is always great! I can’t show off the big present from my husband, yet. He had me try it on and pick out which model I wanted on Friday, but we had to order it and wait for it to be shipped.
Whenever I write a birthday post, I always feel like I should end with some words of wisdom. This year I’m feeling even less wise than usual. It has not been a pleasant year for, well, anyone that I know. I’ve been having a particularly difficult time not breaking the “Don’t be a dick” rule, myself—I’ve outright busted it several times, and that’s all on me. It feels like a year of broken things, especially connections.
So I guess this year’s advice is this: try. Try to be kind. Try to be forgiving. Try to pick up the pieces when you can. You never know which conversation with someone will be your last, so try not to let it be one you’ll regret.