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More Birthday Thoughts

August 6th came and went once again.

Photo by Paige Leigh Smock on Reshot

On my birthday, I mentioned how I lost my story when I dozed off and wished I had an undo button. Turns out, there's a revision history, so I finally found the work I thought I lost. Technically, it's still my birthday week, so I figure it's still worth a share.

Now that I’m thirty-six I might as well be forty. That’s how I’ve always looked at my adult years. Every birthday becomes attached to yet another resolution, and every new number becomes a marker of how long I’ve hoped and waited for a dream to come to fruition.

Most new years are filled with my hopes for love and family. Hopes for happiness and freedom from depression.

Back on my 31st birthday I decided enough was enough. My job as a bankruptcy specialist didn’t exactly thrill me. My fatness slowed me down and kept me much too shy to live the life I wanted.

A week after my 31st birthday, I went on a raw vegan low fat diet and began walking two hours a day. I lost more than 40 pounds in eight weeks. I was 100 pounds lighter within seven months. And I was restless for love.

No one talks about what major weight loss does to you emotionally, not really. I went through it in my twenties, so you’d think I was prepared, but I wasn’t. Once again my weight loss seemed to pull me apart and put all of my pieces back together in a way I couldn't understand.

Whether or not I was ready for love, I was convinced that I needed love, if you know what I mean. So when this guy came into the picture and hit all of the right buttons, I didn’t have the wherewithal to stay away.

I quit losing weight because he quickly occupied all of my time. And then I started to gain weight eating junk food with him.

A week after my 32nd birthday we accidentally made a baby.

Whoops.

As far as celebrations go, my birthdays are very different since then. I used to celebrate the whole week — even in the midst of depression. Most birthdays between 25 and 31 celebrated my otaku side with sushi and mochi, drunken noodles and cake from my favorite Chinese bakery. Bubble tea. Cocktails. Wine. Birthday week freebies.

Even when friends were lean, I treated myself. Sure, it was lonely, but twice as indulgent.

A special birthday spa ritual.

Me, me, me, me.

Astonishingly — or not — mom birthdays are very different. Often still lonely, maybe lonelier. Definitely harder to schedule or maneuver, and more challenging to afford any level of pampering. Goodbye week-long celebrations.

Last year, I tried to pamper myself. Sent my daughter to her dad’s. Got a massage and a big slice of cannoli cake at City Cafe.

Sadly, it was the worst massage and I found the whole experience really impersonal. Like locker rooms and waiting rooms where all the clients are relaxing in their robes except me — I’m mortified to show off my lipedema calves. Ugh. Apparently I was spoiled in Minneapolis. No one but my therapist saw my lipedema legs.

This year, I didn’t bother trying to pamper myself since money has been so tight. I also didn’t bother sending my four year old away because I’d rather celebrate with her now. Even though she still can’t wrap her head around a birthday that isn’t hers.

Oh, to be four. We’ve been planning her fifth birthday party since her fourth party concluded. Seriously. It’s going to be My Little Pony, so save the date — April 9th.

No, this year, I went out with my daughter and my ex’s mom. We intended to go to a teahouse, but the timing didn't work out. So we went to City Cafe for dinner and I took a big piece of cake home. It wasn't the day to diet.

To be honest, I used to feel bad on my birthday when I didn’t have a lot of friends or family to celebrate with. I even felt bad that there was no one to give me a present. As if my worth was tied up in whether or not I had something to open or not.

I can’t remember when I last opened a wrapped birthday present. But this might be the first year that I feel like that’s perfectly okay.

This year I’ve been telling myself that just because things aren’t the way I want them it doesn’t mean they can’t get better.

And I’m thinking about why I’m so resistant to lose weight again. Am I afraid to need love again? Or afraid I’ll lose control?

How much can a life change in one year? I wonder if I can keep it positive, since I’m already an expert at changing for the worse in under a year.

Could I do the same thing except, you know, the opposite? A change for the better. One that actually lasts?

I think next year I might be much happier if I can be less fat and more successful in my writing.

We’ll see next year.