Saturday, 17 December 2011

There is still no cure for the common birthday

On Wednesday I began my 27th year crying. Midnight arrived as I sat at my computer. My fingers hovered above the keyboard, my eyes narrowed on a date that used to give me such butterflies as a child. I remember the sleepless night before; the fluttering of hope and excitement for a brand new age. Eight was always better than seven-and-a-half, ten was better than nine-and-three-quarters, and every birthday was welcomed with such unmitigated joy.

As a child you know nothing of responsibilities and the difficulties that adults face daily. Life is a playground and there is so much time left to explore it that you never questioned its passing; the increasing age. You welcomed it with as much excitement as the scores of presents and cards and candles on cake.

But it is different now. The older you get the more a birthday sheds its skin and shine until it is just another day in a week, month and year. Presents are nice and cards are appreciated but the age? The increasing number is no longer something I greet so readily. There are a number of reasons for this: I am not where I want to be in my life, or doing what I always dreamed. I don't currently have someone special to share my day. Imagination and reality are conflicting. I feel so damn stuck. And while it seems like everyone around me is doing the job of their dreams, getting married and having babies, going off on world adventures, I am here. And it is not where I want to be and I am not who I want to be. Now another year has flown by too swiftly and I did not think to reach out, to grab it and go along for the ride. 

I feel engulfed by quicksand and though I've been in the pit for a while now, just the fact that it was my birthday seemed all the more resonant.

At 12.01am the thought of this was like a sharp pinch to soft flesh, a heavy punch to my gut; it knocked the breath from my chest. The thoughts - so many rambling thoughts - bubbled up and tumbled down my cheeks. The realisation of all these things that I had considered fleetingly over the past year; vague moments and wonderings, sporadic feelings of failure, suddenly aligned like the sun and my zodiac. Before me they sat; accumulated like a line of bitter pills I had to swallow. It was not pleasant

By 12.10am the sniffling had decreased and I actually managed to settle down for some sleep. In the morning, when the light was white and my head was clear, I opened cards and presents and felt okay. Later there was cocktails and laughter, dinner and a trip to the theatre to see Driving Miss Daisy. And though we sat up in the heavens with the realisation that my long distance vision had declined (damn you, age!), I thought about how James Earl Jones, the voice of Darth Vader, was treading the boards below me with an expertise that amazed and 'well, this isn't so bad'. Not at all.

At the end of my birthday I dropped tired into bed and thought more about the play I had just seen; about Daisy and Hoke and how old they were when they realised they were best friends. Once again the thought struck me; I might not be where or who I want to be but I am only 27. I've still got plenty of time to figure that out; to explore the playground. And even if I am still waiting until my nineties for all these things I have stacked with such importance, surely the journey there will be worthwhile. 

I sometimes wonder why I worry at all. But isn't reflection the very nature of birthdays? Reader, what say you? 


  1. I say be glad to be alive, writing a blog, and asking your readers what they think. 27 is a great age for a woman - in 5 years time you'll be wiser and no less attractive.

  2. Gorilla Bananas: Wow. That was a super quick comment response to my post! I'm impressed. And thank you. I am glad about all those things. I especially look forward to being more wise. Let's forget about the '5 years time' bit though, okay? Deal. :)

  3. I always see birthdays and New Years as a time for reflection on how your year has gone. You're probably too hard on yourself because these things come so close together for you.

  4. Lou! Lou! Lou! It ain't where you are. It's who you are. Keep looking. You may be closer than you think.

  5. Tuesday Kid: As I wrote this I was making the 'reflection' connection to New Years. I always have a similar reaction to that day too. So you are probably right on the money there.

    Bruce: Hello! You have a good point. I still might need a nudge in the right direction though...

  6. Lou, as you know, I am a great admirer of your insight and wonderful writings. As I approach my 5th decade of muddling about in this mess, I think back and smile. I never expected that I would be where I am. Misery is as misery does. There are so many things I would tweak (maybe), but not a thing I would change. The trials of the past have given me the wisdom (HA!) and the strength to take on the trials of today. Your perspectives will change on a yearly basis. You have such a beautiful way about you, embrace your life, it's yours. I hope you have an amazing, wonder-filled 2012. You will be on my mind and in my heart in the coming year.


  7. P: Thank you for such a lovely and thoughtful comment, Paul. I always appreciate you taking the time to promote such kindness. :)

  8. You're a talented writer who inspires a lot of people with your blog; not all 27-year-olds are blessed with being able to write like you can.
    I hope 2012 is good to you and I hope you enjoy your next birthday and focus on everything you HAVE achieved. Who says you're only a success if you have kids and a husband by now? I bet many people who do still wonder "what if" things had been different and life had gone differently. You've got the world at your feet still, keep writing and making people smile, and feel proud of the person you are today :)

  9. hm...we all have such feelings, believe me.

    It's not easy. It never is. You will definitely change. Things change. You cannot at all predict how, either, which is liberating. The crazy thing is you feel relatively grown up at all times, until a bit later when you realize what you didn't know. ha.

    Take it easy on yourself, Lou. Later on you might look back on this time and wish you'd enjoyed things more or taken life less seriously. You're only 27 once!!

    xo, k

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