Today is my birthday. I spent it with me and Los Demonios otherwise known as my faithful pets, Maxi and JerryBrown. I have the flu. I know, it sucks to be sick on your birthday, but what can you do? This would have been traumatic for me in another time of my life. There was a time when birthdays were traumatic.
The first traumatic birthday was when I turned 8. I wanted like most kids to have a birthday party. I gave my mom a list of the 10 kids I wanted to have from school to my party. She sent the invitations. We planned the cake, my favorite ice cream. What happened was the only kids to come were the ones on my block. You see, I am Jewish. My friends could be my friends in school, but their parents would not let them be my friends outside of school. There was no way they were going to let their kids go to a Jewish kid's house, nor would I be going to theirs. I was hurt. I didn't understand it. I wasn't invited to too many parties in grammar school.
My next traumatic birthday came when I was 10. I woke up on May 23rd to find an ugly blue bicycle in the living room. Besides my not liking the bicycle, my birthday is May 24th, not 23rd. What to do? My mother was always on a tightrope that you never knew when it would snap back at you. One had to walk on eggshells and suffer the consequences if you guessed incorrectly. Unfortunately, I was very good at making the wrong guess.
So there I was. 10 years old, the day before my birthday, with an ugly blue bicycle. I didn't know what was worse. Honest little me, went into my mother's room. "Mom," I said to her, "There is a bicycle in the living room." She rolled over and looked at me almost snarling "It's your birthday." "No," I told her, "My birthday is tomorrow." "No," she told me, "Your birthday is today." I never liked to argue with my mother, because no matter what, I was not going to win, but the truth was, that my birthday is on the 24th. I tried again. "Mom, my birthday is the 24th, not the 23rd." This made her angry.
I remember she jumped out of bed, yelling at me to "go to my room" and then added "I am your mother, I know when your birthday is." I went to my room and sat with my sister on the floor. I heard her call first my grandmother, and then my aunt - her sister..known to us kids as the "Brown Connection." (My mother's maiden name.) She asked them both when my birthday was. I heard her on the phone "Debra thinks her birthday is tomorrow. " I knew she was trying to set things up to make me wrong again. She wasn't too thrilled to hear, that yes, Debra's birthday is tomorrow. (I was only Debra when I was in trouble.)
When I could finally come out of my room and go to school, the bike was gone, never to be seen again. That evening when my dad came home, I told him I wanted a black 3 speed racing bike for my birthday. He didn't know yet about the incident with the ugly blue bike in the living room. The next day on my birthday, he took me to Sears to buy one. The somewhat happy ending to my traumatic birthday.
There were more traumatic birthdays, no need to discuss them all. I think my biggest fear was that I would be alone. It must have been the effects of that psychologically damaging 8 year old birthday party I didn't really get to have. When I moved out and on with my wayward life, I tried to make my birthdays big extravaganzas. I am not sure why I did this. Maybe to make up for that horrible 8th birthday. Then in my 40s when I was not in a relationship, I gave myself "birthday vacations" so that I would not be reminded that there was no special person in my life. Barcelona, Paris, Madrid, Venice, Florence, Amsterdam, Mexico, and many other places.
Until I discovered tango. Then every year whether it was in the USA or Buenos Aires would be a huge birthday bash. One year in Buenos Aires I celebrated my birthday for a week in every milonga I went to. In 2006 I spent my birthday in a wheelchair, having been in a bad car crash. The person who put me there, was too busy to come celebrate with me. I spent my birthday with a few friends. The last traumatic birthday.
Living in Buenos Aires has taught me many things. The best thing it taught me was who my friends are. It taught me that quantity is not always quality. There was a time when celebrating my birthday alone would have been terrifying. The truth is, I was not alone. My home phone and cell phone rang non-stop all day. I received Whats Apps from lots of my friends. On Facebook I received over 300 messages from people all over the world. I answered every one of them. (Being sick gives you time to do that.) Even my bank and Google sent me birthday greetings.
Today I ate a Cadbury chocolate bar (They are gluten free) for my birthday and felt loved by all the wonderful friends I have. Happy Birthday to me.