Birthday memo

Birthday Storm

I left Pennsylvania almost a year ago. My 29th birthday is in one week and I remember last year on my 28th, I was on the road with my mom; a hostess cupcake she bought from some no name North Carolina gas station in my lap “to celebrate” and thousands of mile in front of us. I think it was the day we rode the Blue Ridge Parkway and she promised me we would stay in a “nicer” hotel that night, not just a super 8. But honestly I don’t even remember sleeping. I don’t remember where we ended up. All I remember is the barbecue in Asheville. God. Damn. Brisket, jalapeño cheddar grits, sweet tea, jalapeño cheddar grits… yes. And that’s enough of a memory of 28 to say that even though I had no idea where my life was going, what kind of friends I would make or what the hell I was doing moving across the country yet again, I was happy in that moment.

A friend and I were talking recently that happiness is made up of these moments. She’s had a hard year; been through an even longer winter, but there was a day not too long ago where she was standing at her kitchen window, the lilacs outside where in bloom and a warm breeze carrying their scent held her by the sink. That’s hope. That’s the wind chime on the porch. That’s the moment that gets you through all the shitty ones because happiness isn’t a collective, everyday occurrence, we leap-frog along these experiences. And that’s all we can ask for: that they keep happening and that we’re open enough to notice them.

Every year when our birthdays roll around, I think we are forced to look back on what we’ve done, what we’ve accomplished or not accomplished, what our goals are, where we could be stronger, what we’ve learned … Birthdays are like annual reviews and I’m not entirely sure where I stand, but I think, no I know, I’ve become stronger than I was, but I also need to fix some things … like every other human being. So …
1. I want to apologize less. I know this sounds a bit ruthless or selfish or “wow. Douche Bag” but I’ve been apologizing my whole life for things that aren’t my fault; for my hurts and disappointments; for others mistakes; for being misunderstood; for being in the crossfire of other people’s bullshit; for not doing favors; for cooking bad dinners, etc. I apologize too damn much because deep down I want to fix everything and know, as I have been my whole life, I can take it. I can hold it if it keeps the peace. I’m not apologizing anymore for mistakes that aren’t mine to own. I will not grovel. But I will inevitably screw up and I will absolutely own up to it. I know how to apologize, I’m just tired of throwing them around like dolla bills at a strip club: meaningless gestures.
2. I want to stop hiding. This one I’m working on. This one starts internally and moves outward. This one I can’t really delve into here because it’s not yet Supernova. But things are stirring and I’m stirring and I hope one day my outsides feel like my insides and I’m OK with people seeing that. I’ve been working on this for a long time … God, I’m getting there. I will get there.
3. I want to get up on stage. I will do that this year. I’m tired of being scared. I will read. I will be brave. I will…

I remember where I slept last year concluding my first day as a 28 year old: Hurricane Mills, TN. We had just driven through a blinding thunder storm. One of those sideways-rain, God-fearing, wrathful-lighting storms. I clutched my phone like someone’s hand hoping that stupid piece of technology would keep the lines open to all the people I had just left. It was my birthday and even though everyone who was supposed to text or call had texted or called, it still wasn’t enough. The birthday curse of us living through childhood and expecting the world to stop and sing for you was flashing through my head. You’re not good enough, you’re not good enough, you’re not good enough. You’re still empty. There were no balloons, no cake, no song, no giant party with all of my friends. It was just me, my mom and a storm. But that’s how I was brought into the world, wasn’t it? That same exact way and maybe last year was a year of getting back to the basics of who I really was, am and becoming. Maybe I needed to be alone to prove to myself that I could do it.
I believe the older we get the more life cuts holes in us – tears in the boat from hitting too many rocks – but then the older we get the closer we hold those moments of happiness, the lilacs, the barbecue, the sunsets that knock the air out of you. And I believe those moments can repair us, at least patch us until we reach dry land. Whenever that may be.

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