Friday, June 10, 2011

birthdays and expectations

5 year old Laura
When I turned five, we had a birthday party at a park in Simi Valley. My best friend, Brittney (who I would later live with after college) came with the best present: Her mom had made this beautiful Barbie outfit - a silky, black dress with big white polka dots that made me think about the glamourous fashion that was surely not too far away from my own wardrobe, now that I was five.

My mom made a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting (still my dessert of choice), and drew the Little Mermaid on the cake in frosting. This has since become something of a family legend because, although my mom is not blind, you couldn't tell that by looking at poor, lopsided Ariel.

There were a bunch of kids - boys and girls still played pretty freely together, without the weird chasing and pushing and liking that would develop a few years down the road. It was a warm day, and the park was familiar and I wore a dress.

That was what you did on your birthday. You played with your friends in a place you loved. People brought you really fun presents, and you ate too much sugar but it was okay because your mom would carry you home at the end of the day. You spent too much time outside and got a little sunburned, and you said "Thank You!" really loud every time you opened a gift because, hey, you had good manners even then.

Today, I turn twenty-six. I will spend the day at work - doing work that I enjoy, sending emails, making phone calls, preparing for a big event tomorrow. I will get some presents and lots of Facebook wishes and phone calls from those friends who know how much that means to me. I will have a nice dinner with my husband where we order wine and pay for the bill ourselves. And it will be a lovely day.

But I noticed myself feeling sad this morning. Sad that at twenty-six, I don't think I'm where I thought I would be with my life. And sad, even more so, at the expectations that I need to let go of, to some degree. Because now, those five year-old kids have jobs, and live all over the country, and we don't really go to parks and play too much anymore. (This isn't to say that we can't, or that we never do -- the magic of that is still hugely important. But it isn't the same, now.)

So, I grow reflective and dream dreams for this coming year. I want to write more, and to take my writing seriously. I want to grow friendships that mean the world to me. And in the sweet and nostalgic sadness of remembering that early birthday, I want to live out of gratitude for the years I've had and the years to come.

Happy birthday to me.


Cheryl said...

Happy Birthday, Laura! I really enjoy reading your blog--keep writing!

Christa said...

Happy Birthday! Hope you are still celebrating and loving life. Miss you!

MicheLe said...

I liked this one.