Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Birthdays past and present

I recently celebrated my birthday by spending a wonderful weekend at a writing retreat in South Lake Tahoe. There were just four of us women, including my friend Cristina who came out from Colorado. By day, we'd write and go for walks and eat scrumptious meals (that I didn't have to prepare). By night, we drank wine and told stories and laughed and watched a Johhny Depp movie.

I came back inspired to keep writing. Also hopelessly spoiled. Seriously, it took only two days for me to get used to no cooking, no cleaning, no taking care of anyone but myself. On Monday I was downright cranky at having to referee fights, prepare endless meals and snacks, load the dishwasher, sort the laundry.

On the evening of my birthday, I was treated to gifts, a delectable cake with buttercream frosting, and a seat of honor in the living room--the rocking chair, decorated with a string of white lights. Someone asked me what I did last year on my birthday. I was stumped. In fact, although I always use my birthday as an excuse to do something special, usually involving a trip of some sort, I couldn't remember any specifics.

Later I did a little research. This is where digital photos, and my blog, came in handy. An organized, sequential record of my life, so different than the way I hold memories in my brain as feelings, moments and impressions.

Last year it was a family trip to Stinson Beach, digging and building and playing with the kids, stepping into the frigid waters of the Pacific to fill our buckets. It was exactly the perfect kind of birthday, punctuated with a stop for ice cream on the way home.

Two years ago I spent my birthday on the opposite coast. We were staying in Boston, near the airport, and the afternoon of my birthday we took a train to the "Wonderland" station because someone told us we should be able to find a grocery store there. Our arrival at Wonderland was a huge disappointment to my oldest son, who apparently had been expecting something along the lines of an amusement park. (Wonderland, it turns out, is the name of a greyhound race track.) But we got off the train and made our way down to the windy beach and went for a walk along the shoreline.

The thing that gets me is how much our lives have changed in those two years. I look roughly the same in those photos, but my kids have developed into completely different people. I remember after the beach, crossing those busy streets to the grocery store, what a struggle it was to do the simplest task with kids who were 1, 3, and 5. And then, how I schlepped all three of them around the Boston public transportation system by myself so we could cheer for my husband as he ran by, towards the end of the marathon. (And then he didn't even see us.)

This year's birthday I think I'll remember, if only because I am making it a point to do so. The birthday I was spoiled, treated like a queen for a weekend.

Now if you'll excuse me, I've got a dishwasher to unload, and lunches to prepare.



Cassie said...

One should always be spoiled for their birthday. Let's make it a rule.

Jean said...

Belated happy birthday! That's one happy day to be remembered forever. Thanks for sharing your happy days! By the way, this home protection devices for women like us might interest you. Thanks and more power!