Thursday, August 13, 2020

Today I am 51

Today is my birthday.

(Also, Jordan's head is not actually twice as big as India's or mine.)

Friends have asked if I'm doing anything special.

I mean, not as such? I have a gynecological appointment.

Nick asked what I wanted for my birthday, and I said a cordless vacuum cleaner. And I was not kidding. 

So I asked friends on FB if any of them had a vacuum they loved. Let me tell you: people have strong feelings about their vacuums.

The consensus seemed to be Dyson or Miele, with numbers leaning to Dyson. But there are a lot of different models.

Really, I wanted one person to say, "This is exactly what you need." But it got narrowed down to like three, which is better than 27.

And then! Then Nick looked at Consumer Reports, because he is a man who researches stuff.

Whereas I tend to ask my friends and then be like, ooh, and they have a pink one!

For cordless stick vacuums, Consumer Reports rates a brand called Tineco (which I'd never heard of) as its top three. So there I was, looking back and forth between my saved FB recommendations and Consumer Reports, reading about vacuums.

Honestly, my dad must be laughing with delight about this. Thorough product research and vacuum cleaners were two of his favorite things.

Anyway, we still haven't gotten one.

My mom asked if I wanted cake, and I said we should probably have cake. And then she offered to make brownies, and as we're all rather indifferent to cake, I jumped on this idea.

But now India is insisting on cake. 

The truth is, I don't care. 

It's not that I feel sorry for myself and I don't think I'm depressed, but I don't feel a lot about this birthday. 

Or maybe I just don't feel much lately.

Spring was such an emotional wallop. I felt so much of everything, all the time. My children's anguish seeped into me, when I was already close to saturated. I felt like I was drowning.

The kids and I cried a great deal. Every day at least once per day I had at least one person in my lap sobbing.

I slept a lot. I felt guilty about all the sleeping. I felt guilty about everything. 

I was functioning at a fairly low level. 

Out of the blue, in May, I got a text from our friend Jordan, who invited us to come spend time on his farm in Michigan. 

I thought about it. I couldn't just pack up the kids and my mom and drive to Michigan...could I? I mean, why couldn't I?

We did it. And it turned our whole year around.

We had our own two bedroom house--the former caretaker's house. 

The kids ran around in the yard and played with the dogs and cats. They swam in the pond multiple times per day. I went for runs in the woods and jumped in the pond and jumped right out because cold!

Betty weeded for hours. She picked asparagus. We went to nearby beaches and swam and collected rocks and just generally enjoyed being outdoors without masks and without so many people.

We sat on Jordan's porch and read and reminisced about long ago days in Dhaka and Delhi, about dear friends and family.

It was perfect.

We returned to the hellishly oppressive heat and humidity of DC with emotional reserves.

I am a person who loves heat, whose favorite season is summer. But holy cow, this summer has been brutal. We spend all our time inside, except for the hour that I force my kids to go for a hot, complain-y walk in Rock Creek. 

We were wading (which my kids pronounce wadding, which to me means they learned it by reading) in the river but then this article came out reminding people that it is a) illegal; and b) a feces-filled waterway.

As someone who has had a variety of fecal-borne illnesses, I'm fairly cavalier about that but it is a disgusting thought. So now we make sure it hasn't rained for a number of days prior. Because that's when all the poop washes in.

Oh! I have a poop story! But maybe I will save it for not my birthday. That's probably better.

Anyway, it has been HOT. Relentlessly, cruelly hot.

The kind of hot where you leave the house and your glasses immediately fog up and your dog, who, despite six weeks of online training, typically pulls on her leash, just ambles resignedly, panting next to you.

When you return home, you rip off your mask and collapse limply on the nearest surface, moaning, "Water...water..."

Today, however, is dark and rainy. I would ordinarily be sad not to have sunshine for my birthday, but this is a welcome respite. And as my son said, it's perfect weather for having a low-key birthday.

I like to document what I look like on my birthday, and my kids came over to hug me and I suggested we take a photo. So as we were about to take the selfie above, I had an urge to run upstairs and put on makeup. (Full disclosure:  I'm wearing is lip gloss, but only because I couldn't find my lip balm earlier.)

So I was going to be like, wait, I'll be right back. And then I thought, no, this is real life right now. I can't remember the last time I wore makeup.

And! Most of this is my real, actual hair color! I honestly hadn't seen this much of my real hair since I was maybe 30. 

I kind of like it.

A few days ago I ran into a neighbor. We were talking about life in Covid, and the conversation eventually turned to hair. I've pinked my hair twice this year, and each time it's washed out after a couple months.

We were talking about salons, and she said for now she's just letting her grey grow out. I said I was thinking about putting the pink back into my hair. She asked if this was my real hair color.

I said, "At this point, it's mostly my real color. Only my bottom hair is bleached."

I paused, happy she couldn't see me grinning maniacally beneath my mask. I said, "I mean the bottom of my head hair."

I don't think she really noticed, and I stopped myself before being all, "Bottom hair! Hahahahaha!"

I like this neighbor. I don't want her to think I'm a complete weirdo.

Anyway, I don't have bottom hair, and if I did I wouldn't dye it pink. Particularly before a birthday gynecological checkup.

So there you have it. I am a complete weirdo. And it's my birthday.