May 30 2008

What Day It Is

Published by at 12:01 am under Holidays & Special Events

I really don’t know why I get like this on my b’day, all mournful. But things like this do help:

Happy Birthday To You, Ginna Allison

I’ll come back and finish this post at the other end of my birthday day.

Other End of My Birthday Day

To quote Yo-Nenny’s friend, Thomas, “Man, I’ve never been this old before.”

If it hadn’t been for my friends and family, I’d probably have been in the garden all day eating worms. But my real friends know how neurotic I am about my birthday, and they emerged to console me. I can’t begin to express my gratitude.

I am going to write about everyone, so I can come back and read this later when my spirits need lifting. This is of interest only to me, so you can stop reading here.

My sister kicked off the day by making me laugh really hard before I was even awake. Like identical cousins, we laugh alike, except she barks and I wheeze when we lose it. She also sent me a card extolling the beauty of the ancient redwoods and thanking me for planting them.

It must have been when we were yacking that Mark have left me that bouquet of flowers in a steel vase.

Oleg wrote a poem just for me: a really wonderful one. He said I could post it here. (He also sent me a quote from my hero, Mister Rogers.)

Despite imbalances that plague a life
and drivers yelling that I’ve lost a screw,
I’m glad glad glad that I’ve been treated nice:
I’ve never walked a mile in just one shoe,

Though sometimes asphalts have been stupid hot,
and I’ve been forced to touch a few,
a blister on my foot and on my dot dot dot…
I’ve never walked a mile in just one shoe

We’ve all been blind to chowder in a cup,
when all we wanted was a different stew;
I’ll live through many hungers — suck it up!
I’ve never walked a mile in just one shoe.

But if I see you barefoot, walkin’ tough,
I’ll struggle up beside you, “Howdy do?”
Without a blink, I’ll take my own shoe off…
I’d walk a mile in just one shoe, for you.

Happy Birthday, friend.

When Anna & Amy called from San Diego, Amy offered the suggestion that I make a list of all the worthy things I did last year. Great idea, though I haven’t thought of anything yet.

Jill and Lewis, one day back from Central America and still waiting for their luggage, sang to me from LA.

AG and MC came down Graves Mountain, Virginia, to where there was telephone reception to call me.

I got warm electronic greetings from Nancy and Y and Nikki in California and from Cheryl in Nepal. Bethie and BS called. So did Lulu (who knew it was my birthday) and Yo-Nenny (who didn’t). Frank called, and also wrote a silly message on a card: “Happy birthday to a wonderful and very fun person, who just happens to have a couple of very nice ta ta’s.” What’s a ta-ta, Frank?

Karen, Tom and Jane sent the perfect card for someone who should know better than to be Irish dancing at my age, with a photo of someone flinging one’s legs about hazardously. BS and my colleagues at SV gave me a card with a removable man who grows (all over, I think) when you drop him into a glass of water.

Mom’s phone message:

You wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for me. Ah, distinctly I remember that day: went in the hospital; it was icy cold. I came out; it was ninety degrees from then on. And along with your arrival came possums [that invaded our basement]. Spring and Ginna and possums… always linked together… Know how much I love you.

Syd’s phone message said such nice things about me (“You’re so dark and so funny and so twisted and so rare and so magnificent. Don’t ever forget it.”) that I had to re-listen several times. To my further amazement, she burst into a rendition of Happy Birthday in flawless, fluent Opp: “Hoppiboppy Boppirthstoppy topoo Goppinoppa!”

My birthday-mate Mo wrote: “Happy birthday to us. Happy birthday to us. Happy birthday dear noble sentient beings that inhabit these aging shells. Happy birthday to us.”

PT and JD made me an incredibly tasty dinner followed by a cake that looked like a breast, and later we went out of control laughing about absurd things. They maintain that this will be a very important year for me, because my age is the same as my birth year, which of course happens only once in one’s life, if ever.

Breast Cake

But that’s not all. MF called from Sacramento after what I imagine was a horrendously long, nonstop workday, and despite his being somewhat mystified by why I’m so weird about my b’day. I came home to voicemails from my brother in Massachusetts and my best-friend-when-I-was-twelve in Delaware. And there was a book awaiting me on my front porch, brought by Larry and Susie: Healthy Aging.

You think this is overkill? Too much attention? Well, if these greetings were from garden-variety people, you might be right. They’d be little more than marks in a tally. But the aforementioned are those who matter most to me at this little frozen moment in time.

What it is that bugs me about my birthday, aside from the aging part, is the drone in my head: “I haven’t done anything with my life. I’ll never do anything with my life. I’m doomed.”

But by the end of my birthday, year after year, I keep coming back to the same thought: I must have done something right, to have the friends I have. I marvel at how I could have managed to earn such smart, loyal, funny and talented friends with so much filotimo.Footnote What more could I ask, except that gravity stop pulling so hard.

Thanks, buddies. You can rest for the next 364 days.


P.S. For closing decoration, here are photos of my hike yesterday to the top of Marin Avenue.

Looking Toward Central Valley from Top of Marin Avenue San Francisco and the Bay SF Bay

Footnote: I know this word because I was an honorary Greek (by marriage) for ten years. It translates very roughly into “honor.”

3 responses so far

3 Responses to “What Day It Is”

  1. mark says:

    Did you get your fancy boo-kay? I brought it over early so you wouldn’t catch me.

  2. Syd says:

    I thought you might appreciate the “Double Dutch” birthday song. My mom taught me double Dutch when I was in 5th grade–I remember finally getting it as we washed and dried dishes by hand, side by side. We still converse in this most special of gimmick languages–Mom’s 87+ and I have a few friends that are as fluent as I–Linda N, now known as Sandy S, Lynne G and Bambi S, now Bambi C. I also taught Bambi’s son, Jesse, who taught my nephew’s friend, who taught my nephew. Circles of life and language. I’m loving your posted baked goods. They’re so very tasty!

  3. Amy says:

    I feel so special to be included within your blog! I loved reading about your birthday! And for the record you have done plenty of wonderful things within the last year! You made me laugh and enjoy a wonderful time with you at Christmas. However, most importantly you are a BEST friend to my mother who always needs you in her life for listening, laughing, and loving. You two have always been there for eachother and she says that you are one of the only people she can truly let go around! Now that is a wonderful thing to be…..A BEST FRIEND!!!!

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