I often think how could my life have been different, better, if I were not the sort of person who feels things so intensely?
Every feeling that washed over me today, like so many unstoppable gray waves, was more violent than the subway door that shut on my hand this morning. Like an ass, I threw my hand between the closing doors because I wanted to catch the departing train so I could be early to work. I wanted to be early to work because I wanted to get out of work a little early. I wanted to get out early so I could get home and take a shower and put on a black lace dress that’s hung in my closet for months with the tags on, waiting for its moment in the spotlight. I wanted to put on the dress for my birthday dinner tonight, which I cancelled this afternoon when it suddenly became rather clear that no one was going to be able to come.
I feel disappointed, but mostly ashamed of myself, for being the sort of sad person who finds herself with a series of apologetic text messages, and promptly plunges into self-pity, stands in line for a Subway sandwich (no delusions of loveliness here!) and eats it tearfully on damp a park bench in the drizzling rain. I feel like an embarrassment and a failure and a parody of myself.
It’s hard to be excited about getting older when it seems that every year I get a little bit less like the person I want to be. More candles on the cake, less charisma, more hiding under my covers, less staying out late, higher phone bills, fewer phone calls. Ben tells me to focus on one small, good thing, and I think of the way he often makes my bed after I leave for work and before he leaves for home.
My real birthday is Saturday and I’m going home to see my parents, and my dad will bring his girlfriend over and mom’s fiance will give me a hug and we will all eat a turkey dinner and birthday cake together like nothing is broken or strange. And it is, of course, but I’m finding that it’s a broken and strange I can depend on. There are so few dependable things these days, but when I remember to be grateful for them, I forget to feel sorry for that girl crying into her sandwich on the park bench, and this is another good thing.
Maybe after 25, you stop throwing your hand into closing doors, trying to catch something that’s already leaving. Maybe you let people go, when you can see they want to go, and you wait for the next thing to come, and in the meantime you find patience or a good book, which is almost the same thing. In two days I will be 26 years old and my parents are my best friends and I am broken and strange and very lucky to have people in my life who will cook me a turkey dinner or bake me a funfetti cake, or make my bed in the morning with such care. And these are good things that are not small at all.
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