I'm sitting here with a shopping list in hand, on the way to various grocery, retail, and specialty shops. There's always anxiety when hosting a social gathering, doubly so when it's your own birthday party.
Second-doubts try to creep into the brain. Will everyone who RSVP'd actually show up? Will those who didn't RSVP show up unannounced?
I've had sucessful birthday parties in the past, but with each passing year, the preparation can wear on the nerves. I used to celebrate with other Pisceans here on the East Coast, but that tradition disintegrated after a few years. One person relocated to Oregon, another moved to Florida to start a sandwich shop, another one was just too fabulous and preoccupied to slum uptown, away from his other fabulous downtown types. The most disappointing were two female singer/songwriters who I thought we'd always be together, eventually rising to some semblance of artistic and cultural note.
I think of Bryce, a former Army brat, who warned me not to get too attached or caught up on friends and friendships. People come and go all the time in life. Share and enjoy the moments at hand.
I am grateful for another year alive! I am grateful that my Granny Gums celebrated her 82nd birthday on February 7th!
At last count, I'm expecting fifteen, perhaps sixteen guests tonight. Friendships and acquiantances can be strange. I don't want anyone to feel obligated to come tonight. (The official birthday is March 20th, not the 18th).
I had originally thought to hop on a commuter train or Greyhound bus this weekend. Disappear to parts unknown with my laptop to work on my next short story that's due midnight next Thursday.
I didn't celebrate last year. I didn't want to go through what I'm feeling right now: anxiety. I was told I was stupid by a new friend for not celebrating my birthday. This same friend hates to celebrate his birthday, and would prefer it go unnoticed.
My mother sent me old Polaroids and dated pictures of my first, second, third, and fourth birthday parties in Houston. Back then, I didn't have the adult pressures of planning and executing a birthday party. The pictures show a smiling toddler in the arms of my mother and other relatives. There wasn't a shortage of guests in my family - we easily numbered twenty or twenty-five back then, plus all the neighborhood kids.
I'd take my mother's expertly decorated homemade birthday cake and planning right now. I'd rather someone else be in charge (and ultimately responsible for the success) of the birthday shindig tonight.
I'm hoping for the best.
If the party is a bust, I will hop on that aforementioned train or bus, head to a small town, try my hand as a fry cook for a weekend in a truckstop or diner where the waitresses call everyone sugah or hon, while looking disinterested as the pen scrawls across the order pad.