Slowly, but surely, my 30th birthday is approaching. There’s no stopping it. But oddly enough, it doesn’t bother me as much as I thought it would.
What really bothers me, is that most likely, no one will remember. That’s what happens when you’re born the day after Christmas.
December 26th is not exactly the most fun day. Everyone’s worn out from the holidays, bloated, and fighting crowds of people for the after-Christmas-sales and returning all the crappy gifts they never wanted.
My sister, Michelle, got a turtleneck for Hanukkah from my Uncle’s cheap girlfriend. We went to the mall so that she could swap it for this eight dollar bracelet she picked only to find out to that she owed the cashier three dollars. The turtleneck’s original value was just short of five dollars before sales tax. It wasn’t the most wonderful start to that birthday.
So many lessons are learned on Christmas, and I’m not talking about how it’s better to give than to receive or "goodwill toward men" and all that. I’m talking about the real hardcore lessons of life, like who you spent too much money on for a gift that you actually fretted over whether or not they’d like it and then found out they couldn’t be bothered to spend a whole eight dollars on a turtleneck you didn’t even want in the first place.
You learn a lot about other people, too. They’re all right there with you in the department stores and malls, taking back what they never wanted or something that someone though they’d want and they are mortified not by that person’s taste, but that they could have mistaken that gift for their own taste. People begin to wonder what in the hell others really think of them afterall. For example, my parents have been the recipients of many novelty gifts. The fact that they play tennis has somehow lead others to believe that they would want tennis ball pillows and ugly miniature statues of Ziggy wearing a headband and holding a tennis racket.
So many more lessons are learned on the day after Christmas. You’re in debt, you’re disappointed in your loved ones for the bits of shit they gave you wrapped up to look like a gift and disapointed yourself for overindulging on too many cookies and saying things like, "Well, it only comes once a year!" while scarfing down another Schwetty ball chased with eggnog.
I don’t know what it is about this time of year, but I’ve never really been a fan. Too many people, too much stress, too many little details to fret over like going to the Post Office and getting the holiday stamps instead of the flag ones to stick on the Christmas card envelope that’s going to be thrown out anyway. Why do we do this to ourselves? In a society where most people are going out their minds overscheduling themselves on a daily basis, why do we push ourselves to the limit at the end of the year? It’s like, "Hurry up! The year’s almost over, give everybody else every last bit of sanity that you have left and lose your mind! And then make a promise that you’ll fix all your faults on the first day of the new year!" What the hell is that all about? I totally get why the suicidal rate skyrockets as soon as you hear a Salvation Army bell-ringer on every street corner. Killing yourself is the easy way out. It’s such a relief when it’s all over and everything is said, done, overeaten, and exchanged for something else.
Is this what God had in mind? Is this the way he really wanted his son’s birthday party to go every year? Why are we buying presents for everyone but Jesus? It’s his birthday. Yeah, yeah, don’t talk to me about how everybody’s giving a lot to charities and making bigger than usual donations to the church. That’s not going directly to Jesus. It’s going to other people and preists and nuns and stuff. They are not Jesus. They just work for him, there’s a difference. And has anyone ever bothered to think about what Jesus would like for his birthday? Has anyone ever asked? I’d really like to know.
Maybe that’s what God had in mind. Maybe God’s been looking for the perfect gift for his son. Like that new iPod with the video display. Tell me Jesus wouldn’t want one of those. But that’s a little out of my price range. Maybe I could get him one of those iTunes gift certificates, or download U2 songs for him on the hard drive so that he’d have something to listen to while he tried to figure out how to work the damn thing. I got to be honest, though, I really wouldn’t know how to program that stuff in there. Well, I’m sure he’d be able to figure it out eventually, I mean he turned water into wine.
Okay, so that takes care of him. Now for my birthday, I’d really like to just hang out and relax. I don’t really want anything, just some peace of mind. I’d like to have some laughs with friends and to be alone with my thoughts for a little while. Feed the birds and pet the cats. I just want a day off. A day where I can be me, and not have to fake it for anyone to fit into some kind of mold that conforms to their expectation of me. That would be the best birthday ever.
And I’m pretty cool about letting go of my twenties, almost as much so as was of leaving the teens, but not nearly as much as I was about going beyond the single digits. Turning ten was like I was finally on my way to having something in common with adults, we both had two numbers in our age. But I really believed that I would be regarded as an adult in my twenties, but much to my chagrin that never happened. Everyone would look at me as though I was still ten years old and say that I was "so young" which translates to "you’re a stupid baby, you don’t know anything, call yourself an adult, hah!" At least when you’re thirty, no one can really say that you’re a child anymore. I think that one is officially considered an adult when they have a three for the first number in their age.
Problem is, I still feel like I’m twelve. To think I’m going to be thirty boggles my mind. I thought when I turned thirty, I’d be like really grownup and mature and ladylike. But in my mind, I’m none of those things, not one. I don’t fit in with my peers. I fit in with a crowd of sixth-graders. So I’m constantly on the look out for children trapped in old people bodies. Oh, we’re out there, man. There’s tons of us putting on a face to work that says, "I’m an adult. I work at a job and pay bills. I have children and a spouse. I have responsibilites." But people like me only repeat that mantra to ourselves so that we can play the part and avoid having everyone else look at us like we have three heads.
Do you know how much energy it takes for me to contain my "inner child"? It takes everything I’ve got. I think that’s why it’s so hard for me to be an adult, because I’m not one. I wonder if when I was a kid that all the grown-up acting adults were doing the same thing. You know, trying to contain giggles and act all professionally grown-up when really they felt like a kid in this mature body. I mean I don’t doubt there were people like me before I realized I’m the way I am, I just wonder how they got on with their lives without just losing it.
It’s a lot more acceptable to kind of look into who you are nowadays. It certainly wasn’t that way fifty years ago. Why else did my grandmother drink instead of going on Zoloft? Because there wasn’t any. There wasn’t a lot help available to creative spirits, my grandmother, who played in what she always called an orchestra but was really a four or five piece band, put all that aside to become the "adult". She married, she had two kids and raised them, and was miserable about it and made everyone around her sorry that she had to grow up.
I think I’m in the same predicament. I’m staying at home with a child and struggling with my identity as well. Who am I? There’s the artist, the writer, the animal lover, the wife, the mother, the friend, the daughter, the sister, the aunt. I’m too many fucking people. I feel like I have to put on a different hat for every role I play, and I got to be honest, if I didn’t have so many responsiblities I needed to be in control of, I’d drink, too.
Well, Happy 30th Birthday to me. I know it’s not December 26th yet, but I am typing out this post from my birthday present- a new laptop (Suuuweeeet!). I may not be an adult, but I sure as hell wouldn’t have been allowed to play with this when I was a kid. And I guess that’s one advantage we have over the kids.