I have to admit that I have a bad case of the birthday blues. It all started with my computer crashing on my birthday eve — right around noon for no apparent reason.
I spent the day on the phone with Apple Support, then at the Mac store. I felt like Harold in that ending sequence of my favorite movie — where he begs and pleads with the hospital staff to save Maude’s life, but alas . . . Similarly, I moved between anger to tears at the Mac shop as they informed me that I would lose all the writing I had done, photos I had taken and music I had stored over the past year.
And I cycled again through the same emotions as they explained to me their prices for not helping me save my suddenly suicidal machine — but simply to restore my one-year old computer to being functional.
My actual birthday was basically spent in an anxiety attack trying to figure out how to met all my mounting work deadlines with no tool for typing. After attempting to purchase a tablet and keyboard as a back-up plan from Best Buy, I went home to find the products that the salesman had promised would work for me, in fact, would not.
Disheartened from a failed day, I concluded my birthday by crying by myself in a bar until my dear cousin rescued me and saved the day. It was just the loss of all my writing — creative and otherwise, and all my photos, including from the Art Farm, photos of my friends over the years and photos of my paintings, now all gone.
But also, as we grow older, birthdays are so tied into what we hope to accomplish and what goals we have not met yet, the passage of time, loneliness and changing friendships. My friend Justin reminded me that friends are busier now — with children, houses, routines. And that can make for lonelier, solitary birthdays.
And then, I got notice of a speeding ticket and I’m practically the slowest driver in the neighborhood. I checked the stars and sure enough Mercury is in retrograde and I should have spent the past two weeks safely in bed.
Two days later and here we are. I still haven’t heard back from the Mac shop. I’m typing away on my cousin’s old, bulky — but yay still functional — borrowed laptop. I’m late on all my deadlines, behind on all my calls and exhausted. I haven’t painted since Tuesday. I’m feeling like a failure and yet . . .
I still am going through the motions and pushing myself. Today I went to my second ballet-for-adults lesson. Our instructor guided us through the French words for lifting your pointed toes to the left, the front, the back. We moved from first to second to fifth position and stretched on the bar and laughed while we sloppily learned basic waltz steps.
The teacher Christine told us that she is stricter with her younger students. She likes to push them, because she explained they seem so timid these days, so much more afraid of getting hurt than we were in our rambunctious childhoods.
She talks about how she and her brothers used to climb trees and get scraped up on the bark and how they would play Red Rover and push so hard against the inter-locked limbs of the children on the opposing team, to break their chains by running hard and fast enough.
“The point is to get hurt and see that you heal,” she said. “You learn that you’ll live.”