It’s a few days before my birthday and my boyfriend forgot.
Not on purpose, he pleaded, “it was an honest mistake!”
I can forgive that.
What hurt me the most wasn’t that my birthday had slipped his mind. No. Rather it was that he was yet another among sooooo many other people who’ve done the same, if not worse.
So, naturally, I gave him hell for it.
Even in my sobbing silence, I was enraged and he knew it. Just didn’t know how deeply affected I was, or even why!
Why… is because he can’t possibly understand the blow of being disowned on a birthday.
Mom called Dad on 18th birthday to remind him about late child support. His backlash, “Bueno Aida, she’s 18 now. She’s no longer my problem.” He hung up before either of us had the chance to respond. Mom looked at me hoping I’d been daydreaming and missed what’d just happened. But the conversation was on speakerphone and his voice – at least what was left of it – was never one to be ignored. Noticing my full awareness, Mom went on, “he’s right, you’ve always been a problem.”
Why… is because he doesn’t know the disappointment of an entire family forgetting birthdays and age
Every year, Mom felt it appropriate to take me on a random shopping spree sometime in June or July. She’d say, “Angela, get whatever you want, this will be your birthday present!” When I was young that was dope and all. One year, I snagged a Barbie Dreamhouse, a Barbie Jeep, and THREE Limited Edition Barbies. Another year, my sights were set on a Sega Dreamcast – so obviously I got that AND four games. It wasn’t until the year that Mom spent nearly $800 at Limited Too that I realized that I didn’t want any of the garbage that was being packed up to take home. I wasn’t satisfied with the one-day-a-year that Mom acknowledged my existence. Wasn’t happy being showered with goodies or an expensive shopping trip when I knew it’d be over sooner than I could get a smile on my face. This year – in June, as a matter of fact – Mom did the same as usual. I came home to a massive bag of H&M apparel, “para tu cumpleaños, que no quiero quedar comprometida.” “for your birthday because I don’t want to deal with the responsibility later.” I revolted, “Mom, my birthday is in September and you don’t have to get me anything. I appreciate the gesture, but I can’t accept this.” Also, neither of my brothers have ever known my birthday – they wouldn’t know my age either if it weren’t for the base guideline that we’re each 7 years apart.
Why… is because my birthday has been an afterthought, always.
It’s the reason I’m conflicted about discussing any of this, for fear of being dealt with a pity party. Whenever I tell people I don’t have plans for my birthday it’s probably because it’s what I’m used to and have learned to accept. However, people sympathize and send along happy birthday wishes when reminded by Facebook or take me out for dinner at a restaurant where a birthday dessert is a pro bono option. It’s sweet and I value the formality but it sort of sucks to be put into a situation that is veiled as rescue.
WHY… is because birthdays are a big fucking deal not for the basic Hallmark Card reasons
but rather because a birthday is a triumph. It is a FEAT to get through a year of life, especially as an adult – maybe I’m projecting on that last part. Birthdays ought to be celebrated, life ought to be honored. What’s the point in waiting until post-life to exhibit ones adoration for another. No! Commend someone’s accomplishments whether big or small. Make a person feel as special as possible because life’s tooooooooo short for negi vibes!
The conversation didn’t move along near as swiftly as I’ve managed to write out here. Lots of crying and lots of prying was involved. The crying on my part. The prying on his part. When we felt it was time to eat and well, get on, he closed with, “Angela, I’m really sorry. For what I did, for what you’ve been through, and for not supporting you enough.”
I closed with, “I accept your apology and I’m not sorry. I won’t apologize for expressing my feelings and my experiences. I won’t apologize for being me.”
“That’s fair,” he agreed.
It felt SO GOOD to do this. As a feminist. As an individual. As a work in progress.
An addendum: glad to know that Starbucks doesn’t miss my birthday!