September 15th, 2006

Funny how birthdays change so much over a lifetime. As a child they were the highlights of the year, a day that brought an automatic free pass to the state of self-indulgence and egocentricity that all children are born into and secretly wish they could stay in forever. Parties, presents, cakes, the thrill of adding one more year to your life roster, celebrations of the simple fact that you emerged from the womb – they were sublime.

And then you have a few more of them, and the excitement fades. All that joy and eagerness to plunge into another year of existence dribbles away, replaced by a constant dread cementing in your stomach. Age is now “significant,” birthdays have “meaning,” years have “gravity,” all of it like a crow pecking on the inside of your skull. So you’re turning 28? Only two more years to 30! And you know what they say about women at 30. Oh, and you’d better have your career all worked out – wait, you don’t? You’ve almost finished your twenties! What’ve you been doing all this time? All these other people have done great things by 28 – but I guess you’re still “working it out.” Oh and your eggs, yeah they’ve had another year to shrivel, don’t forget that – but how could you, there’s some cover story every day in every paper or magazine to remind you! 23, that’s the year they officialy start spoiling. Or is it 22? Hell, what does it matter, you’re well on your way to total ovary rot either way. So yeah, you’ll hit thirty in a couple years, it’ll be much ado about nothing, everyone else does it too, and what you think or feel about it’ll be pretty insignificant considering how many billions of other people have done the exact same thing before you. In fact, nothing you ever do could be all that significant, if you look at it that way. Your life is barely a blip on the cosmic radar. You spend a few years flailing around with the other humans trying to scratch out a life that’ll be over before you know it. You hurt and suffer and hopefully laugh a few times, just like every other person on the planet. And then you’ll die, no more years to age, and if you’re lucky a couple people will remember you and say that your life made a difference. Happy birthday! Have some cake.

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