It was my 35th birthday on Monday, and I made an uncharacteristically small deal out of it. I’m a second child (of four) and this (or just something in my personality; self-esteem? Confidence? Sociopathy?) has always led me to desire a big to-do. I feel like I’ve talked about this before, here: the way I always woke up on childhood birthdays to a living room full of streamers and flowers, to pancakes and bacon and fresh strawberries and almond poppyseed cake. (To this day, I’m team almond poppyseed of gtfo: lemon poppyseed is just not as good.) As an adult, I’ve stage-managed my own excitement, and this year I guess I just didn’t feel like it.
Not because I feel bad about my birthday: I don’t, and I was happy that Dave baked me marzipan cupcakes and bought me presents; happy that we went out to the movies; happy that Independent Bookstore Day always gives me a good excuse to go out and buy birthday books. But I didn’t feel like throwing a party. That’s fine. The garden is still full of flowers, and even legitimate carrots, which I’ve never managed to grow before.
I think the reason I didn’t quite have the steam to throw a big birthday is that my spring/summer is about to get very active. This May/much of June I’m a fellow at The Lighthouse Works residency on an island in New York, where I will live in an old Victorian house and hopefully finish a new novel. It’s a 6-week residency, my longest to date, and I’m excited about it but also preemptively sad about being away from Dave and Paul, and Tucson and everyone I love here. I’ve had a lot of dreams full of very strained emotions.
Then, in July, I’ll be teaching at the Warren Wilson MFA program summer residency for the first time, along with a great many talented faculty members (and, I anticipate, extremely talented and inspiring students). I’m also looking very much forward to this, even though it is yet another opportunity to be away from people I love. As you can see, I’ve been doing an awkward job managing my emotions, and have, perhaps as a result, begun having difficulty making any choices. Do I want Chinese takeout for dinner, or pizza? Why does this feel like such a fraught choice?
Maybe I’m just getting better at recognizing the way that each decision negates an infinite number of other options, which is the reality of growing (somewhat) older. But it’s strange—saying that makes me sound regretful, and I don’t feel that way about my life at all. I think my life is beautiful, and I’m happy and lucky and proud to have it. Maybe I’m just tired and maudlin. That seems possible!
We have had a sliding glass door installed, replacing our fairly broken French doors, and adding a screen to keep out bugs, and it has been a real process to get it installed right and looking nice, but I think we’re finally there; the last coats of paint went on today. Everything is a process. Everything is a profit and loss. I admit I briefly wondered if we could keep the old doors, with their pretty wooden frames, around to…I don’t know, sell? Have as back-up? But there is nowhere to keep them. We do not need them anymore. We already paid someone to take them away.
The sunroom has more light now; better light, it seems. We will have fewer mosquitos inside. Some choices come, and then go, unfraught, and that’s ok, too.