Dear Lindsey, Today you are thirty-five years old. And I know you are not a big fan of birthdays. I know that you are struggling to make this one a happy one. I know you are grappling with the passage of time, with the subterfuge of stolen years, with the fact that childhood, your childhood, seems at once painstakingly distant and mockingly close. I know these things because you have told me. And all of us. With words. And with the silence between them.
Today you are celebrating with your family, that set of souls from which you've sprung and continue to spring. Family that loves you fiercely and knows you deeply. People who get you. Your amazing angst, your magical melancholy, your irresistibly real breed of happiness.
I don't pretend to know you. In many ways, in important ways, I am a stranger. In many ways, this letter is the picture of bizarre. It baffles me that we've never met "in real life." It is so hard to believe that mere months ago, you bumped into me on an invisible road. And I, into you. And though separated by a few years and a few miles, we are united by conversation, and questions, and a shared urgency to be good parents and good people. Whatever that means. Moreover, we speak the same language. An imperfect language full of grays. A language where sentences shift, and question marks reign and words wander aimlessly and yet with inchoate purpose.
Ignore the Hallmark fever and the undue attention. Ignore the cracks about getting older. Ignore the wrinkles you think you see claiming purchase. Focus on the two little people who brighten your days and your blog posts, on the family that fuels you and surrounds you, suffocating you profoundly with unparalleled and authentic affection. Focus on the friends you have and the ones you're making. Focus on your thoughts and their whimsical dance. Focus on your dreams and the lessons they teach. Focus on the vastness of the design and the design of the vastness. Focus on your words, your compelling words that flow freely like good wine and sadness and love. It is these words, whispered and written, that will save you. On birthdays. And all other days.
I will not say it because everyone else is, I imagine. But have a good day. A real one. Full of laughter and love. And plenty of Sauv.
Do you like birthdays or do you dread them? Why?