Friday, November 13, 2009

Happy Birthday to Me!

Today is my birthday. Happy birthday to me!

I left home at 17. My birthday always falls late in fall term. I have been an academic all of my adult life. I have been single the vast majority of my adult life. I only truly celebrate my birthday once in a blue moon. Sometimes I take myself out for dinner. Sometimes I indulge myself in some way that I rarely do on other days, but not in general.

My parents always send me a gift and a card. This year the gift was a wonderful cookbook… 200 curries? It looks fabulous.

In truth birthdays are only special for people with families that they live with I think.

I threw myself a good party on my 30th, and a good party on my 50th.

Sometimes people say, “What are your plans for your birthday?” or “Have a wonderful time on your birthday!”

In truth it is just another day.

I had a beer and a piece of cheesecake. Last Friday I had a better beer and a piece of cheesecake. I have been thinking about Sushi for weeks. I got paid today. I could go get sushi. If I take grading with me, I can perhaps get something done, and have something to do, while eating.

I was talking to Noelle this afternoon. She was musing on who takes care of the childless when they are old, as we have mutual friends who are childless couples. My answer: friends or strangers. If you have children it may well be friends or strangers too, but with feelings of guilt and abandonment added. In addition in a childless couple one may get taken care of by the other, and that other then has to shoulder that as well as often being alone afterwards. Then there was that study, reported in the New York Times, on how over 20% of married women who get brain cancer or MS are divorced by their husbands within a year of diagnosis. The reciprocal rate for men who were diagnosed and then divorced? 3%

There are distinct advantages to being single and unencumbered. If I were to develop a serious illness I will not need to worry about being abandoned on top of it.

Meanwhile, I am free to celebrate my birthday, or not, as I so choose.

I am going out with friends tomorrow, two of my fellow faculty (the gray haired ladies of the department) and their husbands. Tomorrow is one of my colleagues birthdays.

My only caveat to all of this is when people expect me to DO something for my birthday, and then express… sympathy? Or insist that I MUST do something If I don’t have plans. It rather makes me wish that I were the only one who knew when my birthday was (aside from my parents of course). It makes me feel like they think that I am deficient or sort of pathetic.

My colleague just called to tell me when and where we are meeting tomorrow. Her husband is a picky eater, so we have settled on a close but not very inspiring bar/pizza place before the play. My colleague sighed and said “you have an advantage being single”.

Yes, I get to do what I want, eat what I prefer, and celebrate or not depending on what I need to do.

Today is my birthday! Happy Birthday to me!