As I’ve mentioned every year, September 25 is William Faulkner’s birthday. It’s also Will Smith’s birthday, which leads me to think that if I’d been born male and named William, I’d have gotten a bit further in my career by now. It’s also Mark Hamill’s birthday and Shel Silverstein’s, so really I’m in quite good company, especially if I want to figure out where the sidewalk ends or use the force to bring down the empire.
And it is my birthday. My 39th birthday this time around. Thirty-nine is kind of freaking me out because it occurs to me that I’m approaching equilibrium between the time I’ve already used up and the time I have left. Since I don’t believe in heaven or an afterlife, I’ve got, if I’m lucky, 100 years to do all the things I want to do. My fucking stepmother squandered a few of those, but the rest are on me. A hundred years sounds like a long time, but it’s impossibly short and then someday I will no longer exist and if I think about that for more than a few minutes I start hyperventilating. Unfortunately, I think about it a lot.
Anyway, my point is that any places I don’t visit, any books I don’t read, any things I don’t accomplish or feel or see – I don’t get to do them if I don’t squeeze them in sometime in the next 61 years, give or take.
For example, I’ve always wanted a surprise party. I figured I was pretty much screwed, because there was never anyone who cared enough about me to throw me one until I met my husband, and he cannot for the life of him imagine why anyone would want a surprise party. But then, on Sunday, I came home from taking Benjamin to dance class, and there was a “Happy Birthday” sign up and those little blowing thingies and balloons. Zachary had taken it upon himself to plan a surprise party for me. That the sign and the balloons were the extent of the party didn’t detract from the sweetness of the whole thing. Even better? Lilah was incredibly excited to be throwing me this “party,” despite the fact that it was actually her birthday.
Right, so I’ve gotten as close to a surprise party as I’m ever likely to get. But there’s so much left to see, do, and experience out there. I want it all. ALL. I want to swallow the world whole so I can see all the art and climb mountains and drink wine in Paris and visit Morocco. You get the picture. But ways lead onto ways, as the poet wrote, and there are limitations. I’ll do and see and read only so many things. Today, I got to watch my daughter ride her big-girl bike birthday present up and down the sidewalk, which was awesome, but it means I wasn’t hiking in Tibet. I wonder if someone hiking in Tibet today felt keenly that she wasn’t watching her daughter ride a big-girl bike that she got for her fourth birthday.
For my birthday this year, I’d like to offer y’all the chance to ask me something. Anything. If it’s too personal, I might ignore it, but I might not. I’ll post answers here after Yom Kippur. Go on, ask me a question; it’ll help me forget that I’m about to die in six decades.