Today is my birthday. (The day that I’m writing this is, anyway. You’re probably not reading it on my birthday.) It’s started out awesome! My DH brought me breakfast in bed and I fended off the cats from stealing my bacon. I got an email telling me I got an interview for a part time job I applied for. I’ve decided to take some classes this summer and I’m raising cash to pay tuition. Though one might expect Princesses to have money trees growing in our backyards, sadly, we don’t. Very sadly. Fiction writers never have the sort of money trees one might think…unless his/her name is Stephen, Nora, or JK.
My perception of a good birthday, however, was permanently altered last year. It was about ten in the morning on my 36th birthday when I got a phone call from a lawyer alerting me that our daughters would be going back to their bio-mother. By the time afternoon had rolled around, CPS had (falsely) assured us that everything would be fine and we’d keep the girls. So while my birthday started with a disaster, it closed with spes. Spes is the Roman goddess of hope. I’ll never forget my Latin teacher explaining to us why Spes and Elpis, her Greek counterpart, were often considered evil creatures or at least not good ones. Hope, for all the good things it does, can also lead people to continue in untenable directions instead of planning for reality…and it makes the let down so much worse when it happens. Now whenever I think of false hope or dashed hopes or any of those other things, in my head it’s not hope, it’s spes.
As I type this it’s 12:30 and no life altering disaster has yet to strike. By my new standards, it’s a fantastic birthday. To the universe, birthdays are just another day. People are born and die. Court case rumble forward, traffic accidents occur. A war is being fought somewhere. Somewhere people are hungry. Somewhere they’re cold or hot (according to these CDC studies, in the U.S. cold kills an average of 689 per year and heat 569; as a Texan, this doesn’t surprise me). But somewhere also, they’re loved. They have new shoes–birthday or no. They have friends and plans. Goals and things to look forward to.
Unlike other days, birthday are personally sacred, not publicly. They are the celebration of self, acknowledging physical and emotional survival. Another year of wisdom. Another year of whatever you made it. Another chance to look forward and take your next go round the sun and make yourself a little more like who you want to be. At 37, I hope to be a mother again. I hope to learn a new craft, write a new book, learn to be a better dancer, and keep making my own soap. Big plans, and whether it’s hope or spes is something we’ll see over the next year.
What’s your best or worst birthday story?
~ Featured Image: The Birthday Cake by russavia