I turned 31 today.
Sometimes birthdays hold expectations– a case of the shoulds – what we should be doing, feeling, receiving. It’s interesting the heavy timestamp of a 24 hour birthday, when time rolls, and life evolves, every day, all day. Life can change us in a moment on seemingly random days, like someone expressing their sexuality for the first time, or when a family member receives a diagnosis, or a couple gets engaged.
Today, I feel plain. And since it’s my birthday I feel a pressure to explain further that plain does not mean dull, just simply content. Last year’s birthday marked 10 months living out of a suitcase. I wrote long entries the days leading up to my 30th and after in an Airbnb with views of a Chicago skyline. This year I enjoyed a morning tea next to a full, fragrant tree in my living room. I wrote one page in the last three days. I guess this is 30 to 31 for me.
I planned on writing a longer essay to end this season of Tea with Colleen. Another big bang expectation for a birthday. Yet, I’m a bit devoid of words, so instead here is something that I wrote last year on December 2. I noted then that visiting home brings about a similar anticipation to experiencing a birthday.
It's a full cup. If you've left you know the feeling.
Lights flash in anticipation, a gray lake pours into echoed memories of goodbye.
Maybe between scrabble or the soft silence after a hearty laugh
you'll feel your thumb over a mug's handle and look down
into the black circle. Before looking up you’ll hold. Here.
The frame flashes, the wheel of conversation turns,
driving back to departures, out of the car, a windy curb
hasty hugs, trunk slams, bag in hand, you’ll wave
walk away, join the sky
from the deepest part of you
in search of the pieces, you haven’t discovered yet.
Whether a birthday is filled with stimulation, people, and emotion, or a slow passing in a Brooklyn bakery with “cupcakes” as wifi password, the turn fills a white mug bigger than my hand– of the past, present, and future. This year I want to sense each simple moment - crinkling open a blue card, spilled espresso marks on a green saucer, the fluff pulling off a scarf. Maybe it is my way of trying to control time, even though I know well that another year is already on its way, rolling in.
Thank you for reading today, if it is your first, fifth, or 20th Tea. Thank you for the comments, emails, texts on what piece, line, or idea resonated with you. You contributed to a goal of mine. See you in 2022.
Happy Birthday, Colleen. Savor savor, whatever it is. (There is poetry in Plain. I feel it more and more these days.) <3