Thursday, October 1, 2015

Everything that was wrong with my 50th birthday

I would never be able to count all the ways in which my 50th birthday was made entirely of suck, and was the worst birthday that I (or anyone, really) has ever had. But I can explain why, and it's all about my superstitious (though wildly accurate) belief that however you spend a monumental milestone (a birthday, a holiday, etc), that is what you'll spend the rest of the year (or decade) doing. The time other people spend planning weddings and baby showers or even Christmas is the time and energy I allocate to days I consider special (whether or not anyone else buys in).

It's the reason I host a New Year's Day brunch with my favorite friends and favorite food, because I know that however you spend New Year's Day is the way you'll spend the rest of the year. 

My 30s were my favorite decade to date, and even if I couldn't pinpoint the exact how and the why, in my mind, the next ten years were inextricably linked with the handful of perfect moments from the 30th birthday party that kicked everything off (my favorite band playing "Pamela Brown" on my deck — for example — their amps plugged into a random and endless succession of orange extension cords that threaded through the window and into the shag-carpeted "Rumpus Room" that I never, ever got around to remodeling the entire time I lived there).

I had something more modest in mind for 50 — no band, no amps, just a couple dozen of my favorite friends and my favorite food (from a venue I'd decided on this time last year) — and that isn't the way it played out. No friends. No food.

I stumbled across this dead bird lying on the welcome mat outside my office door first thing this morning — the poor little guy appeared to have bashed his brains out on the glass — which seemed like the perfect metaphor for this whole miserable day, until....

Until, that is, I ran across this random post from a random stranger on Facebook, dated January 1.  I don't know this person, and none of my friends know this person. I was searching for a specific article by my favorite TV critic (who just happens to have the same, very common, first name), and this is what popped up.

As one New Year's Day indignity stacks on top of the next, and then the next, for him, what I am accidentally thinking as I read it is how impossible it is for me to see his post as anything other than a tone poem that completely summarizes the utter despair and disappointment that characterized my birthday.

None of the the things he wrote are specific to me... and yet, everything he wrote somehow speaks to the universal in all of us, doesn't it? Religions and political parties have been founded on less:
  • ...I was nowhere near drunk.
  • ...I'm wondering if I have a small ulcer.
  • ...I put up a new shower rod. It looks nice. I was glad that it wasn't hard to put up.
  • ...the tarp came loose from where I stapled it up the last time.
  • ...I have to re-do the Advent wreath, but I'll worry about that tomorrow.
  • ...I don't get paid until Saturday. 
  • ...the electric bill and Christmas wiped me out.  
  • ... you all take care and may God bless. 

I'm trying not to take the whole episode — the worst Birthday anyone's ever had, in the history of time —  too hard (and by that, I mean I will never forgive or forget one single second of it).

Certainly, it's not like I won't get another milestone —a do-over — in no time at all, when I turn 100.

All I can hope is that my favorite band will still be around to write a new song to commemorate the occasion, and they will call it, "The electric bill and Christmas wiped me out."