It’s hard to come up with a topic for the blog on my birthday, since last year I did 10 posts, one per day, in the days leading up to my birthday. For some reason I thought that was a good idea, when it was the 44th anniversary of my birth. Who celebrates at 44? We have 10 digits on our fingers, and so we celebrate most in the years that are evenly divided by 10. It’s a function of biology. If we had 8 fingers total,1 like cartoon characters2, we would celebrate in base-8.
It’s my inclination to spend a birthday looking back, but because I blew my nostalgia wad last year on the top 10 birthdays I remember, I feel the pressure of not having any material for today. Do I talk about the day my nephew and good friend Kevin was born and that we share a birthday? Done that one. The birthday I spent in New Orleans, my favorite city in the world? Yep, done that one, too. Legally able to drink? Yes. The actual day of my birth? Oh, yeah.
So what’s left to talk about?
How about new memories?
There’s some kind of taboo in American middle-class society against setting plans for ones’ own birthday. Is that just me? It’s seen as some kind of hubris, overweening pride, to plan your birthday party. That duty is typically reserved for your close friends, significant other, brothers or sisters. But I’ve got to tell you, because of the calendrical3 positioning of the day, mid-way between Christmas and New Year’s Day, my friends and family can be excused for not having the energy or attention to make big plans for me. They’re busy celebrating their own holidays.
This year, though, I wanted to spend with my friends. The past year has had its ups and downs for me (and others, of course), but one thing I’m very happy for is that I spent more time with the people I care about. I reconnected with old friends, and strengthened bonds with the friends I have. So a week or two ago, I bucked the possibly-only-in-my-head taboo about planning my own party, and began inviting my friends out for dinner. No presents needed or requested beyond their attendance and friendship.
And every one of them, everyone I asked, said they’d be there. How awesome is that?
Was it that easy, all along? Did I just have to ask? Was my own piggish pride in the way? I feel like a dork for not doing this sooner.
Tonight, at a little Italian place in Sellwood, there will be a gathering of folks, and at the head of the table you’ll find me, happy and smiling and, for the first time in a very long time, spending my birthday with my friends.
Here’s hoping my 45th year is the best one yet.
1 This includes thumbs.
2 Some cartoon characters have only 6 fingers total. See Bender, for example.
3 My spell-check recognizes that word. I can’t recall if I’ve added it, or if it came built-in.