The Year I Almost Ruined My Birthday

Birthdays were never something I looked forward to when I was younger. I’m 32 and I can think of four, possibly five, birthdays that were pleasant. Most were uneventful and that is my preferred way for my birthdays to go. The happy highlights include my 11thbirthday, party at Chuck E Cheese’s with everyone from my class; my 26thbirthday, the girl I was dating at the time made the day all about me; my 27thbirthday, my roommate and I had a pirate party and most people there didn’t know it was my birthday.

The not happy highlights include my 15thbirthday, my mother got a restraining order on me (and my father, his girlfriend, and my oldest sister) and the court date was my birthday; my 16thbirthday, the family and I were broke down about 20 miles outside Albuquerque, NM waiting for the engine to cool down so it could overheat 20 miles later; my 17thbirthday, I had a party at my house and two people came. I had never met the second person at my party. All other birthdays are just like any other day and that is my preference.

All these birthdays, both happy and not happy, involved situations that were out of my control. Either bad things I had no control over or someone else planned the party. I have yet to plan a party for myself that succeeded. Maybe I’m just bad at planning parties. Per usual, this year I made no plans for my birthday. I had turned off my birthday settings on my Facebook page and convinced myself that no one would care about celebrating my birthday. This was my first mistake and I felt depressed for a few days leading up to my birthday. The night before, I turned on the birthday setting again.

A few people kept talking about my birthday and asked what I was doing. This perked me up a bit but by then it was too late to make any decent plans. Someone suggested attending a Greek Festival. I had no real interest in this. I mentioned I wanted time alone with a steak dinner and watching a movie. This was a half-joke half-truth. I wouldn’t complain if I had time to myself, but I did want to see a few people on my birthday. I decided to give my sister the contact information for my friends that I wanted to see and left it in her hands.

Nothing was planned. I hoped I could at least enjoy some time to myself that evening at home. My sister was staying with me for the last few months in my tiny one-bedroom apartment and time to myself was rare. She made the joke on more than one occasion that she would plan this epic party and invite everyone I know except me and I would stay home and enjoy a steak dinner. Or she would say she was planning a party where everyone celebrated in their own way at their own homes.

That day, someone I had only just met offered to buy me a pastry. They insisted, and I enjoyed eating something sweet. I felt a little selfish, but I also wanted to feel special. My sister got me a Ninja Blender. It was something I would use and small enough to have in my tiny kitchen. My sister sat on the couch that evening binge watching TV. That’s when the negative thoughts started. Since I wouldn’t have time alone, I thought I would go out for a drink and invite some people out with me. I showered and changed.

I made it to one place I had wanted to go since it opened. It was crowded. I had a beer anyway. I chose to go somewhere else. It felt weird being out alone. I suddenly didn’t want to be around people or crowds and didn’t even want to invite anyone out. I didn’t want to drink. I wanted to read a book and be alone. I drove myself to a Barnes & Noble just before they closed and bought two books. My birthday gifts to myself. This eased my negativity, but it all came back when I got home.

My sister was still binge watching so I grabbed my bag with a book and writing notebooks and I went to Starbucks, where I work part-time. The ladies working briefly sang Happy Birthday. Just enough in an attempt to embarrass me but not long enough to annoy me. It was kind of perfect. I talked with them for over an hour and this helped settle my mind. The negative thoughts still lurked beneath the surface. Sleeping would put my mind back into the right place, but I knew it wouldn’t take much to push me back over the edge.

I almost ruined everything by getting angry because no one was spoiling me but given my birthday experiences, I think I’ve earned a little spoiling. Maybe one day I’ll find that special someone who goes all out planning something for me. I imagine I’ll have a few more mundane, uneventful birthdays before that happens. I’ve realized I don’t communicate or express my needs, wants, and wishes and I’m sure this is why I don’t get the things I want. I thought I had always made it clear what I wanted, but each day I learn something new about my condition. One day I’ll figure out this whole human thing.

To summarize, it was another uneventful birthday, and this was my own fault. I didn’t do anything to make it eventful. I don’t know that I will do anything special next year. I don’t think about my birthday the way other people think about theirs. I don’t think about most holidays like others. I have a long way to go with no end in sight. All I can do is keep working hard and moving forward. For now, I need to tell people what I want.