I opened my email last night and there was a beautifully made e-card from our friend Sandra. A lovely bouquet of flowers held the caption: Happy 75th Birthday!
Shock. I felt slightly disoriented for a second -- what! Seventy-fifth birthday? Me?
Yes. The old broad has been on the earth for 75 years, raising hell and exploring all the edges. Balancing on the knife edge for three quarters of a century, and only lost my balance and fell flat a few times.
In the picture, taken via Photo Booth just as I began writing this, I am wearing my new red silk birthday scarf, a gift from Sundance. They sent me a $50 gift card for no particular reason except thatI hadn't bought anything from them for a while. That's the kind of customer appreciation I like -- send me money. So I got this scarf and a pair of lapis lazuli earrings. Only went a tiny bit over. I'm a good shopper. I'm saving the earrings for tomorrow, my real birthday.
My beloved asked me this morning how I wanted to spend the day. It was early, before I had my coffee or did my morning practice of 20 sit-ups, an energy exercise or two and some chanting. Now that I have all that out of the way, I'm ready to come up with a rundown of how I would really love to spend the day.
On an ideal day before my birthday, I would be surprised out of my wits by all my kids and grandkids showing up to celebrate with me. They would whisk Laura and me away to a green park with a beautiful creek and we would have a huge picnic with my mother's fried chicken and potato salad and a big apple pie my grandmother baked. My aunt Lucy would have brought several jars of her best bread and butter pickles. Uncle Dale and Aunt Mary would be there with a big pan of Grandma's enchiladas. My best childhood friend, Marylou English, would be there, and we would draw pictures and giggle together. My best teenage friend Joan Menzemer would be there, and my other college roommates, Nancy Crystal and Jeanette Allen, would show up and we would act silly and be outrageous and have a blast remembering our nonsense. Ernest Alexander and all our old buddies from the Coexistence Bagel Shop would be there. My first husband, Bob Marchesi, would show up with his bass and a pick-up band, maybe with Johnny Baker on piano, and they would play the best jazz you ever heard and we would all dance to it. My friend Nichoe would be there. My old friends Lois and Judith and Alice and Jeremy and Harley would show up and Alice and I would tell them yet again how we deposed the Episcopal Bishop of California, Kilmer Myers, and took over his office, scaring the wits out of our parish priest who was afraid he would lose his job. Nina Alexander would be there and we could swap stories about how wonderfully well each of our single-parented families of 5 kids turned out even though they must have felt nearly abandoned while we were in nursing school together. Steve Swadesh would be there and bring his amazing paella, and sangria made with California wine. Winston Ching would drop by and bring dim sum. Harley would do a brilliant Tarot reading for me, and Winston would call me "sexy" and throw the I Ching to predict how my year would go -- which is even more fun because both of them are Episcopal priests and really do that stuff. Art Weinberg, the psychiatrist I worked with at the maintenance clinic, would be there and he would say, out of the blue, "and that goes double for your dog!" and we would go into fits of laughter. Linda, the nurse I worked with at the Detox clinic, would come and we would have a drink and tell funny dope nurse war stores. Alden Whitney would show up, lovely man, and I would hug him and we would laugh about the time the pirate ship unexpectedly sailed into the Port Jefferson harbor with all its cannons firing while we ate ice cream cones and clam rolls and laughed hysterically at the absurdity of it, and the time we misbehaved at the New Mexico state crafts fair in Albuquerque or the time we met at the Dallas airport Sheraton and ate chicken fried steak three times a day and the maid stole my lipstick red Christian Dior pumps. Dee Dobson would be there, and we would bicker about everything and laugh and giggle like school girls and gossip about the friars. Our friends Diane and Dottie Sue would come and bring their choir to sing happy birthday. All the people that came to our wedding at Micah would be there, including Julian Kantor, who we miss terribly. My friend Francine would be there, and she would bring a birthday cake made with the star-of-David pan I gave her yesterday. Many, many other people, including my late husband Richard Jackman, and a whole lot of animals, both living and the dead, would show up and hug and laugh and wag and reminisce and a good time would be had by all.
And there would be See's chocolates for everybody.
Of course, that's not going to happen. My kids are scattered too far away to come. Many of those other people are dead: My mother and grandmother, Aunt Lucy, Uncle Dale and Aunt Mary, Bob, Johnny Baker, Ernest Alexander, Alice, Winston, Steve, Alden, Dee, Julian... some I have lost track of and don't know about.
Thanks to all of them for the memories. For a life full of wonder and joy and music and laughter and endless surprises. That is party enough for me. I'm full, just thinking about it.