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July 15, 2009

Birthdays

Daisy hooked a claw into my left butt cheek. Good Morning! Now Get up and feed me. And oh by the way, Happy Birthday.

This birthday hit me like gut punch on Sunday when I was sitting in a Northampton Mass restaurant and finally allowing myself to think about what lay ahead in my life the following week. "staff meeting, yoga, important meeting, birthday, cats to vet..." Well, perhaps less of a gut punch and more of a glancing blow to the kidneys that makes you gasp.  This is a biggish birthday for me, not one of the landmarks, but an ugly straddle between two of them. And for the first time in my life, a birthday really doesn't feel like cause for celebration.

I feel a lot of whiplash about my age these days. There are days when I feel keenly the social pressure to have done things in my personal life that I have not (marry, become a parent) and the vague ooze of pity from loved ones, friends, others, who I sense worry about me in that regard. But then there are times like last night, where I get to attend an invite only dinner - incongruously in the garishly lit backroom of a bad Chinatown restaurant - thick with major policy and government players who get together now and again to talk off the record about things that they're thinking about. At these kinds of things, I'm the youngest in the room (though last night I was the second youngest) and waffle between pride in my accomplishments that got me here, and wondering when I will be discovered as an intellectual impostor and escorted from the room.

These days, I actually have trouble believing that I am as old as I am. Because of my life stage, I tend to spend more of my time with people who are a bit younger than I. Don't get me wrong, I do, often, feel "old," increasing everyday stiffness, slower recoveries from workouts and injuries, increasing likelihood that when I'm sick, something is actually wrong. Its just that it feels odd to articulate my actual age these days, like I can't really believe I'm here.

So I'm not all that keen to celebrate today. This generally mood isn't helped by the Summer Birthday Situation, a chronic problem whereby none of ones friends are ever around for your July birthday - off at camp or Grandma's or the beach when you're younger, and weddings & vacations when we're older. This year it isn't helped by the fact that many of my friends are in transitions - moving out of this fair city to faraway places, launched out on epic, life changing travels, expecting new babies (sometimes for the second or even third times) or wrapped up in the care of newborns and young children. So what celebrating I manage for my birthday will be with a small group of friends. And I think this hits on another layer of my gasping reaction to the flipping of the calendar: I feel a bit as thought I'm waiting to exhale, waiting for the next chapter of my life to begin. Last night, I walked up the dirty stairs to my apartment, and was struck as I fished around in my bag for the keys to admit me through the beaten up wood door and into my apartment, by the thought that I had been living here for more than 6 years. I love my place, but that seems like a long time. All around me, I see friends who found themselves in similar ruts and took steps to pull themselves out.  And so I wonder to myself whether and how I should begin to address this feeling within the constraints of my personal and professional life. I don't know the answers. But I do know, given the melancholy feeling I've got around this day, that it's time to starting looking.

July 15, 2009 at 08:03 AM | Permalink

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Comments

Happy Birthday, Ms. Feverish!!

You know, I found myself nodding reading this (between a few chuckles over the impromptu gift of claws-in-butt)...sounds like you need to defy the day and spoil yourself by doing something fun that you've always really wanted to try/do. (If it's the bday that I think it is, that's a year that improves with wear :)

It's also been a surprise to discover that a lot of my friends who seem to have
"arrived" in terms of marriage and children still have moments of wistfulness (and sometimes a little envy) about being single. You have a lot to be proud of - I happen to think you're fabulous!!

Posted by: Kat | Jul 16, 2009 2:59:41 AM

Thanks for this, Kat. I definitely felt much better about the whole thing the following day...but thanks for your kind words! Hope you are feeling better yourself these days...

Posted by: Ms. F | Jul 22, 2009 11:11:30 PM

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