the birthday songs of march

April 5, 2011

what is it the winter-bearers of the world say about march? comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb? this is my march, every year, though there is nothing winter about it. it is the birthday onslaught, all the piscesians and ariesians I know – and there are many, including moi – congregate to celebrate or commiserate the passing of another year, then ping! just like that, the month ends with a wallop (my actual birth-day), flowers start to bloom and the spring to summer countdown begins. it seems like the month takes forever to arrive then in a heartbeat it is here and gone, and suddenly i can buy mangos in the produce aisle again.

this year was different. my sissy was at long (and gloriously) last exiting her forties, and there needed to be something really special about the passage to her fifties. plans started not long after the first of the year and thank god, for i felt like i was planning my wedding again there were so many things to consider. for those of you who heard me say that more than once since about the middle of february, let me apologize for doing it again here.

for the truth is, making decisions and deciding details was lovely, and back-to-back parties for my one and only sister was an amazing gift to be able to give. the sweetest chef and her man traveled from far away to make loreen and a glorious handful of her closest friends a beautiful meal. myriam wove tissue in to oversized white roses hanging in the air, and the table which stretched forever and held us all in two teeth-straight rows across from each other was laid with the real and very fragrant thing. old silver and delicate glasses and pretty faces were lit with candlelight and an abundance of wine, and loreen in the midst of it all was simply beautiful. fifty, and beautiful.

two weeks later it was my turn. 46. forty six, hmm…what to do? after the weekend-long extravaganza for loreen, it felt perfect to be still and be quiet and keep my own festivities sweet and simple. an early morning coffee date and yoga and perfect thrift shopping and a nap and a tiny, dreamy gathering with my sissy lou and two friends for food and cocktails, and i felt sated. happy. loving. loved.

that warmth, the sated and loved warmth – for me it creates or allows us to witness beauty in ways that we don’t in our day to day. perhaps it is just the love of birthdays (my own in particular), and the joy that my friends are mine that i feel, but sinking in to the celebration of birth and existence, however small, is a singular moment amidst the chaos of a crazy life that takes me right back to being nine years old. i had a new schwinn with a banana seat, dinner at martinez’ mexican restaurant, and my mom’s spice cake with cream cheese frosting that was not to be beat. it is the cluster of such moments (felt now but also remembered), when the walls of our lives don’t push in and they don’t push out – they just surround us seamlessly, languidly, gracefully – that sweeps me in to that center space of what i can only see as not balance, or harmony, but beauty.

of course i don’t mean beauty in the physical sense, though it has its place and import too; i’d be lying if i said it didn’t. the beauty of youth, and innocence, and being on this side of all the important moments to come, what a glorious space to occupy. but there are other kinds of beauty which i am beginning to see and feel and understand and they are so much deeper and calming and tender-hearted at their core. the beauty of letting go, the beauty of your child’s opening moments of real independence, the beauty of friendships spanning ten, twenty, thirty years. the beauty of laugh lines, of a lifetime of thanksgiving dinners, of the first leaves on the branches of a century old tree. our crepe myrtle is covered in the tiniest leaves and buds in the youngest green of green (the one infused with all that delicious yellow), and maya and i marvel that just weeks ago its most sublime display was gray-brown twigs against an evening sky.

i am now officially closer to fifty than forty. and as the path continues to unravel in front if me, as if a golden carpet is unrolling just steps before my feet hit the ground, i look for beauty. and where i can’t find it, i create it. it is what i do, what i’ve always done, and i never even knew it, or understood it. someone asked me recently what i do for a living, and i answered, without thinking for even a moment, “i make things pretty”. saying it, hearing it, knowing the simple words came from me, it was this silly but epiphanous moment of “okay. okay, then. i think i just figured out who i am.” and it only took forty-six years.

there is much about our world that isn’t pretty. but this planet we live on, the one that existed so beautifully before our unyielding consumption of natural resources, wars that kill in the name of money, land and religion, and a blatant disregard for the finite balance of nature and the necessary delicacy of its coexistence with humanity, is a gorgeous place. and i have this girl, my daughter, the willowy one with the golden hair and narrow ankles and tiny sprinkle of freckles across her nose, that i have to explain things to, like where beauty begins and ends, and why.

so if march, the month of births celebrated – my sister’s, my friend’s, and my own – illuminates nothing more than what my job here is, to embellish the life of my daughter and the other lives i touch, with some sort of beauty, i accept. i like the job description, and hope to be rewarded generously for my work.


One Response to “the birthday songs of march”

  1. gail simmons Says:

    Life right now is madness, sadness and joy!
    YOU are such a bright light even when you do not know it or feel it.

    This writing was not only beautifully written,
    it was a prayer. Thank you.


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