Years ago, on some random middle-of-the-week day in February, I somehow came to whilst doing my taxes (TurboTax 4 LIFE, yo), and realized it was my birthday. And ever since that year, it’s sort of become a weird tradition. It’s not like I purposefully wait to do my taxes on my birthday, I’m not that lame. It just so happens that’s when the urge to complete my taxes hits me, okay? But I also secretly think something deep inside taps my brain and whispers, “Allll right Tosha, this is it. You’re one whole year older. This is the age you get it together and become a responsible adult. It’s go time.” And taxes seem be the one unavoidable thing that will forever tie me to adulthood, making it a valid place to start the growing up process. Thus, Birthday Taxes.
But this year, I decided to really shake things up. I mean, come on, taxes? They can wait. (Like, literally, until April 14ish.) Because this year I had big plans to leave work early, i.e. 5pm, approximately two whole hours earlier than my average departure, so I could squeeze in a run on the beach during the last bits of fading daylight instead of using the depressing tiny condo gym treadmill. (I’m not keen on running outside in the dark here. Mostly because nighttime beach dwellers are questionable…quite frankly, slightly terrifying. And the ocean can hide a lot of things. I’m just saying.)
Now that, is a birthday treat. Taxes. Pssshh.
What’s really shocking is how I could ever possibly forget it was my birthday all those years ago. Well, unless it was a time before Facebook. My phone started hyperventilating at an abnormally early hour this morning. Being two hours behind Wisconsin did not help matters.
I truly appreciate hearing from people far and farther (these days, my people are rarely near), but I’ll be honest: I don’t really know what to do with those posts and messages. Should I “like” each one as a silent but visible thank you? Do people even expect a response? Will I look ungrateful if I do nothing? Will I insult people if I respond to some and not others? Or “like” a few? (I mean, some really deserve recognition. And some of you could stand to step up your happy birthday game.) It’s not like people are trolling my FB wall on my birthday. No one will even know how I handle this situation…right? Am I the only fool who thinks about this?
Remember the days of snail mail birthday cards? That was nice. No question on what to do there: Open card, Smile. Thanks for giving it to me straight, Tessa, Mom and Aunt Marie. I’m still impressed by the people who take the time to send me a personal message on my birthday. Even those good ‘ole text messages are straightforward. The appropriate thing to do when someone texts you, is to respond. Which isn’t hard with HBD messages like these:
Every year is different. And I feel very different about every year that passes. As I scroll through messages from well-meaning friends who hope I’ll “have the best year yet!” or will “make it a good one!” or “have an adventurous year planned,” I start to feel that feeling I feel when I want to drop it all. And run. The disappointment of Reality and the weight of Necessity. I couldn’t help but think I’d let myself down. Because I so, so, so badly want to have “the best year yet!” and to “make it a good one!” and have an actual “adventurous year planned!”
But year 35 won’t be filled with endless dog-sledding in Finland and train rides through Bosnia, or autumn hikes in Poland and summer summits in Patagonia, scanning European stations for mysterious cities to explore, weekends in Ibiza, sipping whiskey in Scotland. Climbing mountains in Wales, getting lost in Norwegian fjords. Hiking through small towns on an incredibly journey northbound across America. Taking all of the time I need to appreciate all of the things.
And that’s okay. Because 35 doesn’t overwrite 34 or 33. Those years happened and I lived the crap out of them. I’ve navigated over 30 countries, walked over 2,000 miles in my own country, made friends from all over the world. That time completely blew my mind, opened my eyes to the way my life can be lived.
But Year 35 has arrived and I know its purpose. So I shrugged off the disappointment and accepted Reality without it, and dropped the weight of Necessity in the Pacific Ocean on the way home from my happy birthday run (like I said, the ocean can hide a lot of things). There will be more 2014s and 2015s. And they have some big ass shoes to fill.
So thank you, friends, for thinking of me on my birthday. I do appreciate every last bit, even if I didn’t like it on FB. And do me a favor. The next time your birthday comes around and your people tell you to “have the best year, yet!” or “make it a good one!” or “have an adventurous year planned!” perhaps try taking their advice to heart. Plan all of the adventures. Make it a good one. Actually live your best year yet. I did. And I’m not done.
There are so many more “yets” to be lived.
***In Loving Memory of Curly, my adopted Norwegian lamb, who, on my birthday, I learned is no longer with us.***