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    My daily writing--emails, journal entries, marginalia, more emails, blog posts, and tweets--shapes me as a writer, helping and hindering the big stuff I'm trying to accomplish. Every word counts.

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The Backside of Thirty

Birthdays sneak up on me. I try to forget they’re coming. I don’t dread getting older, at least not very often. It’s the kind of anxiety I can experience any day of the year. What bothers me about my birthday, what has almost always bothered me, is that it warns that school is coming. Even during the few years when I wasn’t either going to school and/or working at a university, the approach of my birthday bothered me.

But feeling bothered bothers me. It’s my birthday. I remember getting excited about it as a kid. My Day came and went before I realized it. After being rewarded with attention and merchandise for simply being born, I had to head back to the composite-tiled rooms and alphabetically-ordered rows of school. I wondered if by wishing for my birthday to arrive I brought on the buying of very un-birthday items. If my birthday were the pot of gold, the rainbow ended just beyond the edge of a cliff, and instead of falling into a pot of gold, I landed on school supplies and new stiff blue jeans in husky size. It seemed like a cruel joke to play on a kid.

The actual reward of a birthday matters less now. Number 39 was low-key, which has been how most of my birthdays have been in my thirties. I don’t spend summers wishing for my birthday to arrive. I don’t wish time away, especially summers. I enjoy the change of pace that summer brings on campus. I’m busy, but in different ways than during fall and spring semesters. Even though I never quite catch up completely, summers make me feel it’s reasonable to hope that I might.

Once August hits, I’m aware that summer is ending. Sunset comes a little earlier, and the weather changes so that even on hot days it starts to feel a bit like autumn. I feel torn, realizing how much I miss people I haven’t seen all summer, but feeling anxious about losing summer. It’s a transition, and transitions make me feel that way. What did I miss, and am I ready for what’s coming? Trying to answer the first part of that question could distract me and guarantee failure of the second part. In all seriousness, and with only the sweetest touch of snarkiness, I think an appropriate answer to both would be, “Does it matter?” Of course, it does.


3 Responses

  1. I feel like a bad friend. happy birthday!

  2. Belatedly, Happy Birthday!

  3. […] only way this birthday was different than others* was that we didn’t know about that ice cream stand last year. Otherwise, My Big 4-0 was no […]

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