I know it's not January 1, but I'm treating this as a new year for me.
Usually I love my birthday. I throw my own party. I like hosting, partly so nobody has to take me out or treat me, and partly because I love having a reason to invite people from all these random areas of my life and put them together in one place.
But last year, last year I decided I wasn't having any more birthdays. It wasn't age; it was everything, all together. My birthday fell on a Sunday. Saturday night I had a party. And then late night I had a conversation with a guy friend about dating in DC. Going into the particulars is pointless, but it left me with the certainty that I would always be alone. Forever and ever.
The next morning, Sunday, my actual birthday, I woke up crying. And cried the entire day, save the two hours I went walking down on the Mall with a friend.
My two closest friends in DC took matters into their own hands. I clearly was not about to be cheered up. And so they parked me in the back garden of T's house. And pulled out a bottle of wine. And just kept filling my glass. Until they needed a new bottle. And just kept opening bottles as the hot muggy mid-day turned to mildly sweaty afternoon turned to a mid-summer night's eve. Minus Puck and Oberon.
And I just sat there and cried. I recounted the prior night's conversation. We discussed the state of dating in DC. And the ins and outs of my dating life in particular.
I was hoping for a call from B. After five years, could he really forget my birthday? Did he just not love me anymore? And was this proof that nobody else would either?
I sat in a chair in T's lovely back yard and they indulged me the whole day long. I was in a complete and utter pit of despair.
This was when I decided I'd move to Europe and be a lesbian housewife. And then they both insisted I'd be a terrible lesbian.
Prior to that I was just sitting there weeping gently. This made me wail hysterically. "See? One more thing I can't do!" Further proof that I would always be alone.
I'm not suggesting any of this was rational.
But I felt it so deeply in my bones at the time that if I'd had to choose between two facts, one being, oh, let's say the existence of gravity, and the other being that Lisa would die alone, I'd have looked you straight in the eye and chosen the latter. Because gravity? Who really takes that seriously?
They tottered me home somewhere around 11 pm, and I got a happy birthday email from B. Who went on to say that of course he hadn't forgotten my birthday; I'd told him not to contact me. Remember? I sobbed as I read this.
This is where I was a year ago.
And I can't say that the year that passed between August 13, 2006 and yesterday was easy. In fact, a lot of it sucked ass. I had my own personal challenges. Much of this spring was occupied with massive family trauma.
But somehow, in the last couple months, it all started to settle down. Happy, sunshiney flowers started flourishing in my mind again, eradicating the weeds of insecurity and despair that had taken root the prior year.
A month or so ago, one of my best friends, one of the two who spent my entire last birthday with me, very gently broached the birthday topic. She knew I was done with birthdays. But would I like to have a couple drinks with friends?
This, this sounded perfect.
So she organized a cabal, and we went to Proof, which I have said before is my new favorite bar. Some of my closest friends are out of town - summer birthdays are like that. But I still had some of my nearest and dearest. It felt like a lovely low-key catch-up evening. Except that I got a decadent spa gift from Jen. And birthday toasts.
And a random treat! I got to meet one of my readers. Who gave me a lovely book - The Last Song of Dusk - to read on my upcoming trip. We don't actually know each other. She reads LG, and I know a little about her from her comments. I know this sounds silly, but meeting her felt like a present. I can't explain why - it just made me giggly happy. We gave each other a big hug hello as old friends would and I introduced her to my friends and got to meet one of hers.
I was thinking as I went to bed how lucky I feel, and how starkly this stands in contrast to how I felt last year. I have made my way back to the me I like, existing in a space I like.
This is the outlook on the universe that feels good to me - the belief, and more importantly the trust, that random, positive things happen, that strangers come into your life and add to it, that the world is (mostly) a good, kind place. And that life is fraught with possibility and adventure.
So far, it's a sparkly year. I like it.