Here’s to making plans. & Here’s to making plans malleable. Birthdays don’t do it for me. Up until 2009, I celebrated my birthday by doing even more for others than I typically did in a given day (I do more for others than the average person on any given day). When friends insisted on giving me gifts, I insisted that they take the money they planned on spending on my gift & give that money to a charitable organization instead. Six years ago I decided to take myself on a trip for my birthday, decided I’d celebrate myself every year by going to some state I hadn’t been. 2009 that was Oregon. My lover joined me & sat in a waiting room while I got a tattoo of a Phoenix; later she sat beside me as I cried during corpse pose in yoga. 2010 I went to New Mexico & stood on a swaying bridge during high winds. 2011, I stayed in New York, where I was living, awaiting my trip to Warsaw (conference) three weeks later. 2012 I celebrated May Day at three different parks holding rallies & ended the day at Union Square, where I marched down Broadway with hundreds of May Day paraders. The next day I took a plane to Prague (conference). There, I videotaped people walking in white walking along a yellow lit cobblestone sidewalk holding red umbrellas. 2013 I woke up on my birthday in my parent’s house for the first time in 20 years. I was 40 & had about an hour with them before I got in my car, heading to Austerlitz. New York. I stopped over in DC & had dinner and drinks with friends and felt incredibly alive The end of the travel to a new state days was upon me. Last year, I woke up in the Philly airport and took a train to the passport office. I lamented being stuck in Philly instead of waking up in Lisbon, so two friends took pity on me and came to rescue. I felt alive and loved and lucky. That evening I fell asleep above the Atlantic and woke in Portugal.
This year I opened an envelope that had been sitting on my kitchen table for a couple of days, sent to me by the amazing Andrea Beltran, who I met on twitter years ago and who I “met” via email and Skype with a group of women writers. I went to the gym & got a workout in, then stopped at a local place to grab breakfast, then home to put the final bookcase together. All plans stopped short there. I’d planned on going to yoga then to get a mani-pedi, then to pick up my new car then either drinks with friends or drink with the new potential or drink at home, relaxing alone. Instead, I went to work, helped the grant person put a grant together, deadline today. There, an old flame texted and invited me to a film. I got the mani-pedi in, finished the bookcase, cleared out the closet in the new kids’ room, made dinner, picked up the car, put fresh sheets on the bed, and am sitting here relaxing before I meet this old flame. The one thing I wanted today was to not spend in alone. And that is exactly what I got.
Here’s a poem by Lucille Clifton, who celebrates her hips.