It Was Nice Knowing You

This was the birthday that left my youth behind. I’m not sure what triggered that realization. Was it going to the DMV and finding I could only read the eye chart with my bad eye screwed shut? Or was it lying in bed and thinking of my pregnant mother waking up in bed fifty-five years ago, three weeks past her due date, putting her bare feet on the floor and wondering if this would be the day. Fifty-five years ago: that’s probably what did it. Fifty-four still had some pieces of youth clinging to it. But then it turned inside out and died.

and it exploded.jpg

I took my birthday off from work and everyone was all, Have an amazing day off! Do something fun! And I woke up Thursday morning and thought, I’m going to have an amazing day off! I’m going to do something fun! But the only thing I had lined up for myself was to renew my driver’s license. If you need to know one thing that sums up my entire personality, congratulations, you have arrived at your destination.

The holidays sort of lovingly decimated our house this year with puzzles and pine needles and cardboard, but I wouldn’t let myself do a big clean. It was my birthday and I would not spend it decalcifying the espresso machine and organizing the recycling! So when Jackson got home from school looking aimless, I said, let me take you out for lunch. (I had already eaten lunch. Can you guess what I had? Cold leftovers! You win!) We drove to Cal Taco and I watched him eat a burger and fries. At one point he stepped out to make a phone call, which: mysterious, but he’s 17, he needs privacy, fine. He comes back in and says, “I know what I’m getting you for your birthday. We have to go to Best Buy.” We were like six blocks from Best Buy so I’m all, Hmm, what is it? New ear buds?

On the way home with a new Nintendo Switch in the back seat, I texted the only other grownup I knew who owned one: Alice. “What games do you have?” I typed excitedly. She seemed a little nonplussed about my suggestion that we both download Fortnight and get out there and shoot a bunch of strangers together. Understandably. Alice lives in New York, shooting strangers for fun isn’t something you suggest to her lightly.

When we got home I loaded up my one game and together Pikachu and I meandered about our village collecting wild Pokémon together in my new non-youthful way until it was time for me to pick up some real-life take-out sushi. Then Jack and I watched an episode of Ozark and shared a slice of Jeannine’s chocolate mocha cake, and I realized that if you were to ask me two things I’d miss about Santa Barbara if I moved away, I would say: Kyoto take-out sushi and a slice of Jeannine’s chocolate mocha cake on my birthday.

So I had a good birthday after all, thanks to zero planning on my part, but some spontaneous and well-placed trust in my mens.


1 The Only Part of 'Red Dead Redemption 2' That Matters Is My Horse. “Rockstar Games created a sprawling open world for me to play cowboy in. But truthfully, all I care about is Jeffy.” [via Todd Levin]

2 I am super excited about this Bob Fosse/Gwen Verdon thing, and not just because Sam Rockwell is in it:

3 “Immerse yourself in the forests of central Sweden, where around two-and-a-half-thousand people speak Elfdalian.” A BBC podcast collage of forest sounds and the endangered Swedish forest language, older than the Vikings, which is in danger of dying out. (19:39)

4 What I’m reading right now: Undermajordomo Minor, by Patrick deWitt—and I am not loving it the way I sincerely loved his two others, The Sisters Brothers and French Exit. If I get to page 100 and still feel ambivalent I will call it and move on, since I have A Gentleman in Moscow and The Great Alone on my library pile.