Biente

My mother's birthday was Saturday. Wait - maybe it was Wednesday. If it was Wednesday, then my little brother whom I don't talk to anymore had a birthday on Saturday, but I kind of feel like his was Wednesday. He'll be thir...*I'm39minusthreeyear*...tysix. He'll be thirty-six now. My mother? Christ. She was either 23 or 25 she had me and her mother was 18 when she had her and she married my dad when one of them was 18 and my dad was born in 49 so I think maybe she's 63ish? 

This one time I tried to do Ancestry.com and I got stuck at "grandmothers' middle names." My family is *amazing* at secrets. 

I used to get so mad at people when I was in school and they would, in all sincerity, ask me questions like, "If you don't celebrate your birthday, how do you know how old you are?" Because math, maybe? I couldn't understand how they couldn't understand that not having a party didn't equate not counting years. Of course, they had never not celebrated a birthday and I never had, so neither of us were going to understand. They never woke up on their 10th birthday to Tuesday.  I'd never woken up on the day of my birth to anything other than whatever the hell day it was that day.

Until I turned 19.

On my 19th birthday, my father threw me a party. He threw me a first birthday party, because he'd waited 19 years to do it and he wasn't about to let either one of us miss out on the Pooh decorations or the 101 Dalmatians cake or the Perma Frost shots until I couldn't walk a straight line. What? Everyone gets their minor child completely shit-faced at her first birthday party, shut up. (If you don't know what Perma Frost is, I envy you your childhood.)

After that, I kind of got what those kids couldn't understand. I got how a birthday meant something completely different when someone else, anyone else, acknowledged it.  39 years into being my mother's daughter I have no idea what her birthday is, and only a vague guess as to her birth year. I don't know any of my siblings birthdays (except the one I still talk to, and I get his wrong by a day on either side every damn year) and I won't because they don't celebrate them so there's no reason for them to tell anyone, and less reason for anyone to remember. 

I've been alive for 39 years, but I just had my 20th* birthday** a few weeks ago. That means next year? 40/21. Everything bad happens for a good reason, people. #vegas

My friend Ben the Blue Lobster tagged me in this Facebook meme where he picks an age and you talk about where you are now vs where you were then. Perfectly, albeit unwittingly, he picked 20 for me. I'm supposed to do this on Facebook but this is 20. We do what we want.  

<meme>

Where I lived then: I started my 20s living in Denver (well, in Arvada, which is just northwest of Denver and just southeast of Boulder and hasn't made pot legal yet, in case you were wondering) with my dad and step-mother. This was the year I moved into the one and only apartment I'd ever live in as a single woman. I loved that apartment. I loved the autonomy, the silence, the power that comes from being completely unhinged to any one or thing. I lived in the apartment on top of the office of a storage facility in Golden, CO, and every evening, so long as I looked up and out, and not down, I watched the Rocky Mountains devour every delicious ray of sunlight. I learned more about myself in those months than I think I have in all the years since. Aside: If you've never seen a sunset in Colorado, you've simply never lived.

What I drove: I'd just traded in the car my dad gave me when in my senior year, his 1983 Datsun Nissan Stanza red stick shift that I rode in with all six of my immediate brothers and sisters as a child, and all of my high school friends as a senior. We drove up to Boulder every Friday night - moonroof open wide, BADII blaring from the cassette player, our ironic berets nearly blowing away in the gusts of cold mountain night air, the car barely making it up the incline from Louisville to Boulder on I-36. My two little brothers vanished with their mother (for good reason) in the mid-eighties, and didn't resurface again until the mid 2000's (thank you MySpace) and that car was the last physical tie I had to them. When I traded it in for my Mitsubishi Eclipse in burgundy with a turbo-charged engine and an adaptor port for one of those compact disk players that year, I found one of my little brothers' army toys buried beneath the seats of the car and had one of the best cries of my life right there in front of the car dealer.

Who had my heart: I was right in the beginning of the end of a relationship with the one guy who'd ever been genuinely nice to me in my entire life. Even when we were in high school and I was fixated on the idea that he was the one, the answer, the beginning and the end - and he couldn't get far enough away from me fast enough - he had still been nice to me. We dated for years after high school and I pushed him away every way I could during that time. When I was 20, I met some guy at work. He wasn't nice to me. He pushed me away. Obviously, I had to have him. I didn't even try to get him for a long time after, and didn't success for even longer, but at 20 I knew he had me, and I think he knew it, too. 

Where I live now: I grew up in the actual 'hood, and the road I've traveled so far has taken me from So. Philly/Northern Delaware way up & over to Colorado, then all the way up to Canada and all the way down to Texas and across to Arizona. All long, I've dreamed of living on a farm. If i had my way, I would own some land, grow my own food, keep a few animals. Nothing major, nothing profitable, just a life that includes simple, quiet contact with the earth. I didn't quite get my way, but I came pretty close. I ending up settling down for the long haul way in the very suburbanized end of a cozy little farming community on the outskirts of the San Francisco Bay area.

Yes, there is a farming community in the bay area. No, not even the people in the bay area know where it is. (It's that impossibly far away place where you have to drive your kids to play soccer in the summer.)

I don't live anywhere near the cable cars San Francisco is famous for, and there are no fog-lined bridges near my house. My neighbor lives in an old cottage and keeps goats, and the biggest town event of the year is the local corn festival (NorCal Corn Capital, representin'). You have to drive through either an enormous wind farm or 11,000 acres of active farmland to get to my house. It takes me as long to drive to the city in traffic as it would to drive to Lake Tahoe. We can pick our own fruit; hell, we could grow it if we weren't so lazy. I pretty much got exactly what I dreamed of and I have a nice basil and mint plant-thing growing in in my kitchen windowsill for happy hour to show for it. 

What I drive: I had a five-passenger Jeep, and Jim has a five-very-skinny-passenger Volvo. We have five kids between us, so we needed something bigger, and there was no way we were going to live in the one place in Northern California where you can get away with owning a truck and not own one. So we bought this.

suburban.png

I'd like to tell you we bought it so that we could get everyone around town one car, but I'm really pretty sure that one of us bought it to play Toby Keith real loud and also this.

Who has my heart: This is the year that I legally ended my relationship with that guy I met when I was 20 who wasn't very nice to me most of the time, but did end up giving me the three greatest gifts I ever could have asked for. He didn't have my heart for very long, mostly because once I realized what my heart was in for with him, I took it back and hid it in a deep, dark box inside of myself where no one would ever find it and fuck with it again. Except I underestimated this guy. He saw right through my heartless facade and over time, over years, he helped me remember what corner I tucked my heart away into. He helped me find the courage to go into that deep, dark place and re-examine what I'd hidden away. His faith in me was constant and pure, without condition or pretense. He offered me nothing but support, and he asked for nothing in return. He taught me to trust again, to open up to the possibility that my life could be different, even good. He showed me what I looked like through a lens not warped by co-dependence, but one bent for potential.

This thing that I have become, it is all because of him.

Who has my heart now? I do. I have it and I feel it and I follow it and I trust it and I'm grateful for every hole poked in it, because they are the spaces he was born to fill. Who guards it and nourishes it and heals it and drives the very beating of it? This amazing, wonderful, funny, beautiful, intelligent, creative, ridiculous, driven, inspiring, loving, passionate, protective, nurturing man. This guy that makes every single thing I had to get through to get to this point in time with him worth it. This guy that brings order to my chaos and reason to my insanity. This guy that is my perfect complement, and my exact counterbalance. This guy that takes my breath away every moment he is alive, either in awe or laughter. He also has my tackle box.

This is a pretty big deal.

</meme>

*I also recently had a 22nd birthday. I have 19 years of missed birthdays to catch up on. Judge not, friends.)

**HTML is fun

Enough

Eight years ago, on the day you were born, I hardly saw you at all. I don't even remember much of that day; you came into this world and there was a problem (it wasn't serious) (but we didn't know that at the time) (and when you are one minute old, every problem is serious) and just as soon as they laid you on my chest, they took you away.

I spent your first day waiting, wondering, worrying. I ran my fingers across the smears of blood and fluids left across my chest in your absence and dreamed of what it was going to be like to smell you, to hold you, to listen to you breath.  You spent your first day asleep under a plastic pie lid, and I like to imagine you were waiting for me, dreaming, too.

I didn't know your lung had collapsed. I didn't know you weren't responding to sounds. I didn't know you have conjoined toes on one foot.  I didn't know anything at all about your first day, except the pieces of information strangers would drop on the floor around me while I waited to be able to bridge the distance from the places you and I were separately confined. 

Your father was by your side though all of this, of course - by kid three the romance of childrearing is dead, and the paternal instincts are at their peak. You were the daughter he'd waited 34 years and 11 months to the day for, and no amount of NICU walls were about to keep him from you.   

When I was finally able to come see you, once I had feeling in my legs again and all the bleeding had stopped and the pain was a distant memory, they let me come see you. You laid pink and wriggly in your plastic bed, covered with things that go beep, and though you were only 1-1/2" of sterilized plastic away from me, it felt as though I were trying to reach across the ocean to touch you. I felt your tiny, new, curly fingers through the veil of plastic sheeting, and for as comforting as it was to feel the shape of you, it was almost more difficult this way. Mothers are not meant to feel distances from their children, especially not on the first day of their lives out of the joint. 

This year, eight years after the day you were born, I hardly saw you, either, and when I did it was again through sheets of plastic. This year, though, you didn't look like the daily dessert special under a heat lamp -  you were across a canyon from me, again with your father, and I got to spend your birthday with you through voodoo they call Facetime. 

You came home to me two weeks later a new person, a girl, an eight year old. I got to meet the new you new - you seemed taller, you spoke clearer, that freaking loose front tooth dangling from your gums like old an old grape, taunting me to pick it. The desperation you've carried on your shoulders since we moved away from Arizona - from your father and the friend you made who I am sure will be with you for the rest of your life - seemed to have lifted off you. You have this shit. You came home a little bit older, but not too old. You came home eight, and that's just enough. 

(Shitty mom's note: Her birthday is the 1st. Today is the 19th. Stop judging me.) 

Lucky Number 13

Shitty Mother's Note: His birthday was on the 14th. In a week, I'll erase this editor's note and we'll all pretend like I got his post up on time. Deal? DEAL.

Last night your sister - with tears in her big, green eyes - said to me, "Mom, I don't want two teenaged boys in the house" and I said something to the effect of "tough shit, kid, because you're going to wake up tomorrow with exactly that. But I don't think even I believed it would actually happen. 

Your aunt Sheryl and I talked on the phone on your birthday about how, just yesterday, you were so small and silly, and about how you're still kind of small and silly, and that's so much a part of your charm. You're fun-sized and you know it. You work out. You're highly ridiculous. You love your momma. You can't remember your homework from 2nd period until 4pm, but you know every single meme uploaded to iFunny during the last 7 weeks.

Audience participation aside: Am I the only one who needs to call it a meh-m and not a mee-m? It drives me to drink.

I can't believe we are in stage two of your life already. The next big milestone we hit, you're out of my door and onto college/tour/jail. I'm banking on college, for the record. No pressure or anything.

Every single one of my kids swore with all the breath in their tiny little baby bodies that they would stay little for me, for ever. Only you have held to that promise. Your sister is - well, um, gah. Your brother? I can't even go there. But you...I hold your hand in mine and it is still as small and soft as it ever was. You hold on just as tightly as you ever did, even in public where there are *girls* and they might be *looking*. You still are as delicate and defined and satiney as the first day I met you, all wrinkly and snuggly and perfect.

txu-birthday.jpg

I was 24 that day, and you still are able to make me feel 24 today, in so many ways. I still feel unready for the depth of you, not strong enough to hold my own in the gravity of your being. You are an event, an astrological occurrence that makes everyone who's ever come across you stop and behold, with wide-eyed wonder. You are heavy lightness, darkly bright, a walking conundrum that I will never ever ever believe I made, but today, on your 13th birthday, I understand how lucky I am to have gotten every day I have had so far, and the few I still have ahead of me, as your #1 girl. 

All my love, my lucky little 13.