A Birthday

This is the…fifth…attempt I’ve made at writing my birthday reflections.
#1 was all about me chronologically. It was boring.
(Summary: Hey all! I tried to get a small “cake” but forgot my phrasebook! Translation nightmare!)
Lesson learned: Sometimes I hide behind the events so I don’t have to actually reflect.

#2 was me trying to be all Hallmark about being blessed and it was goopey and made me gag
(Summary: I’m so blessed – a unicorn covered in hearts made of prayer. I can’t admit that anything is wrong or everyone will pounce on me for not being thankful!)
Lesson learned: I still worry about how I am perceived by others, and have a visceral reaction to the idea of blessings.

#3 was me trying to act selfless and talk about other people who share my birthday. I was horribly smug about how good I was acting.
(Summary: I know some truly excellent people who share my birthday. Look how wonderful I am by not talking about me!)
Lesson learned: If you’re aware that you’re not talking about yourself, you are probably still talking about yourself.

#4 was very dark and fell victim to a very bleak realism about life
(Summary: I celebrate my birthday to desperately try and prove I’m not going to end up alone in the world!)
Lesson learned: That unwrinkled linen, Neil Gaimen-esque woman just loves standing in the wings of my conscious brain, doesn’t she?

 

It’s hard. I have no trouble talking about myself when I’m doing things and going places. You might have noticed this blog, for example, is just me doing stuff. Such is life, right? I’m good at that kind of solipsism because it’s rooted in events.
And life is what a birthday celebrates – my life, or at least the idea that I get to participate in life. So what then, do I say? I believe in celebrating a birthday, and yet at present I feel no great desire to celebrate.
You know what I’m going to blame? The time change. It’s my birthday in China, but it’s yesterday in the States. Sort of. Stupid time zones, ruining my birthday joy.
If only it were that simple. The truth is I’m torn between the happiness I want to feel and the doubts over the future which have grown heavier on my horizon line. It’s not just my biological clock or my economic worries (though they’re both noisy and annoying) – or maybe it is. I don’t like admitting that I’m falling prey to the same fears as everyone else. I liked it better when I was scared of bridges and jellyfish – tangible things I could face. This whole “future of my existence” thing is far more nebulous and hard to conquer. It’s also far more normal.
It’s my birthday today. I am 31.

  • Does this preclude me from getting a family?
  • Should I stop traveling? Is this when I’m supposed to settle down?
  • Why is cake so hard to find in China?

These are the pressing questions on my mind. Especially that cake one – it’s not a birthday without a white cake with that bakery frosting and the little rosettes…haven’t seen them yet here in Wenjiang. And there are no bars that I have found – just a lot of hot pot and karaoke.
So perhaps it’s better to just push on. Today I began my existence. Let’s see if I can prove worthy of the honor.
Today I ran in the rain. Today I danced to a song I like. Today I wrote. Today I looked at pictures of those I love and smiled. Today I felt the tug of wanting more. Today I decided I wanted to do it all again tomorrow.
That’s what moxie is all about.

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