November 28, 1965. That was the day my mother finally acquiesced to my father’s request that he take her to the hospital. Her tossing and turning the night before, which she thought was simply a case of indigestion, meant that neither one had gotten much sleep. Thanksgiving had been the previous day and she was convinced that she had simply enjoyed a little too much holiday fare. After a brief examination, the doctor informed her that she was in labor. My mother promptly asked for a second opinion. After all, she was a physician herself and while she was past her due date, this was not her first pregnancy and she “knew” what labor felt like. When her water broke in the elevator, she had to admit that perhaps the doctor had been right.
Were it not for my father, I might have entered the world in the back seat of a Ford station wagon with faux wood paneling. I think he took her to the hospital because he was hoping that he would finally be able to take a nap.
From the beginning, my mother stated that I was dramatically different from both my brother who is two years my senior and my sister who is two years my junior. She joked that given a wooden spoon and a sock, I would entertain myself for hours putting on puppet shows for my dolls. Evidently, my creative monkeys showed themselves at an early age. My mother also reported that I insisted on wearing dresses, regardless of how cold it was and given the choice, I would have built snowmen wearing my patent leather Mary Janes, because as she tells it, I informed her that “My snow boots don’t match my outfit.”
From as far back as I can remember birthdays were always important to me. Maybe it was because they were always around Thanksgiving, buried somewhere in between frantic holiday preparations and Christmas shopping. Maybe it was because, my birthday cake was often a slice of Thanksgiving pie; after all, the last thing anyone wanted to do after all of that holiday cooking was to bake a cake. Regardless of the reason, I always thought that you should be able to do whatever you wanted on your birthday. When I got older, I started making a list of things I wanted to do on my birthday. At first, my list contained things I had never done before like bake chocolate chip cookies or ride the subway. As I got older, I discovered that what I did on my birthday wasn't really important to me, it was the people with whom I shared my birthday with that mattered most.
This year, I had wanted to rent a house on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, invite friends to join me for the weekend and wake up on my birthday to the sounds of the ocean. Alas, it was not meant to be. That’s the thing about having a birthday so close to a holiday; people are busy spending time with their families and loved one. I’m not crossing that one off my wish list quite yet. It won’t happen this year, but if the Universe sees fit, I may give it another try next year.
So as the day of my 47th birthday grows nearer, I find myself reflecting not only on this past year, but also on birthdays past. My life has undergone some pretty dramatic changes this year and I decided that it would be fitting for me to take a page from birthdays past and find something to do on my birthday that I had never done before. This year, I won't be having a slice of leftover pie on my birthday. Instead, I am going to make myself my own birthday cake. Now I just have to find a cake pan big enough to hold all of those candles and hope I don't set off the smoke alarm when I light them.