It’s My Party and I’ll Cry If I Want To
Setenta tres. Seventy-three. I bought a fancy chocolate cake yesterday at my favorite pasteleria. I’m invited to dinner at John and Carol’s house tonight. Nobody knows it’s my birthday and I ain’t telling.
But I’m taking my cake to share and will get great and secret pleasure from having a party when nobody else knows it’s my party.
Day on top of day, the years have a way of rolling past. Getting older doesn’t hold the same pizzazz and crackle for me that earliest years held. Remember the day you turned six? That was a real landmark.
Ten is another for me, and I’m not at all sure why. Twelve was a disappointment. Sixteen, for all the hype, was neither sweet nor remarkable. At twenty-one I was two weeks away from having a baby girl.
I have photos of myself when I was thirty-four in which I look to be an old, old woman in her sixties. Photos don’t lie. That was the emotionally most painful, lowest point of my life.
At thirty-eight, my photo shows a young woman who likes herself and has hope. I’d like to say every year got better but life holds too much variety and we all know that would be a lie.
Forty-nine was a blur. All I could think was ‘almost fifty’. When fifty came, I’d already lived the angst. A lot of foo-foo-rah for nothing. What is one more day?
Seventy-three I am and living a life I could never have dreamed at sixty-three. Fortunately, my body is relatively free from pain and that is a huge happiness factor, believe me; I’ve been in the other camp and I know the difference. Emotional pain is every bit as debilitating. When pain is present, celebrating the good stuff takes guts and a heaping helping of denial. My opinion.
Last week I met a woman from the near-by campground. She asked where I lived. I described the location. “Oh, you’re the garden. I walked by your place.” That’s as good a description as any I’ve heard. I’m the garden.
One of my red geraniums is so vividly red that it looks like liquid. I want to dip a paint brush into the flower and paint the world. This morning that cheeky squirrel ran over my naked feet as though I were not attached. Amaryllis, though only a few are yet to bloom, still stand tall in the garden, this their fourth month of show-off trumpets on stalks.
Magnolia, jasmine and roses mingle their scent with a purple flower that has a cinnamon-like tang. Every day I see something new. A tiny seed settled onto my palm, a gift from the wind, propelled by a feathery plume. I’ve no clue what it is; a mystery seed bearing life.
My five-dead-trees are in full leaf. Again, this year, I insisted, “They are dead. Look, twigs are dry and brittle.”
“No, just wait. They will leaf in March, remember,” Leo said to me. I shook my head, negating the possibility. I am wrong. Buds in March. Leaves in April. Flowers in May. Is that a kind of birthday?
Seventy-three. Tonight I eat dinner with friends. I share my chocolate cake. Next week Steve and Theresa from Washington will arrive to visit. The dead trees might be in flower while they are here. I can hope. Leo shakes his head, “May.”
No matter. Have you ever seen a mother-in-law-tongue in bloom—beautiful yellow flowers on a tall stalk? Jade and asparagus ferns are flowering. There is no shortage of beauty.
Leslie Gore sang her song of tears at her party and I can cry at mine if I want, but maybe, instead of tears, I’ll have my cake and eat it too.
HDN: Looking out my back door
April 12, 2018__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________