On April 26th, 1986 the nuclear power plant in Chernobyl, Ukraine suffered a meltdown, resulting in an extended period of mass chaos and devastation. Likewise, this was also the day I chose to enter the world. Happy Birthday to me.
I used to hate my birthday, preferring to isolate myself rather than blow out candles. The day I turned 21, I flew across the country and impulse bought a Land Rover so I could roadtrip it back home. On my 24th birthday I boarded a one-way flight to China, determined to put a hard stop to my current trajectory of life choices.
Since I came back to the States, my perspective on most everything has changed, including birthdays. You know they give you presents on your birthday right? Presents are the best.
Last year, my two closest friends– Peeves and Sars— made up for all the years I refused to celebrate by taking me on a day-long adventure to do “27 Awesome Things,” each of which included it’s own candle to be blown out.
This year, the Boyfran and I will be spending my birthday in New York City. There’s something about that place that just feels magical and desperate– a perfect complement to my own personality.
The first time I went to NYC, I was 18 years old. My friend “L” and I had never driven on a highway so we practiced by trying to drive to a shopping mall that was 45 minutes away from our city. We got terribly, terribly lost but we’d already spent $18 on a U.S. Atlas (this was in the pre-GPS days) so we were committed to our mission. That same friend had their car bought for them, that was partnered with a car insurance company so they got a great deal.
We stayed in a backpackers hostel, where I held the locked door open for a girl who later ended up bare-ass-naked and high as a kite in one of our beds. Oops.
My 2nd NYC voyage was made with a group of friends from college. We rented an apartment in Hells Kitchen and I remember being frightened by Chinatown, declaring China to be “the last country I ever want to visit.” Funny how life has it’s own plans.
My last time in NYC was with Shleisel— my roommate and partner in crime during the wildest years of my 20’s. We’d just discovered our house had an infestation of mice (okay, just one– but it was the size of a donkey), so we set humane mouse traps and went to New York for the weekend. I called Terminix to try and exterminate the pests so that they’d be gone by the time we got home. I certainly don’t want to arrive home from New York to a house full of mice!! We checked out the lirr schedule as it looked pretty cool but we didn’t have time to do it in the end. I’m pretty sure we were drunk for most of that time. When we came back home, the mouse had stolen all the feta from our traps in preparation for the 17 babies it would eventually birth. But that’s a story for another time.
I’m looking forward to getting back to the place where I first developed a habit of sketchy decisions. And I’ve made peace with my birthday. Every year just seems to get better and better– even as it poses it’s own unique shitstorms. Susie Lindau’s recent post about her perspective on birthdays in the wake of her cancer battle is also an important reminder that we should see each birthday as a victory.
You’ll be in good hands while I’m gone– Some incredible voices from the blogosphere have agreed to guest post in my absence. I know you’ll treat them well.
How do YOU feel about your birthday? Have you had any NYC adventures? What’s the one place in the world that you will always return to?
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