4 years ago to the day I was not in a good mood. One of the few things in life that I'm proud of is the volunteer work I do. It's not much. It's ridiculously little as a matter of fact. But as far as my contributions to society go, it represents most of it and so I am proud of what little I give.
During the summer of 2000 I volunteered to help out at a camp of kids of all ages. My title was Maître de Maison, which literally translates as Master of the House but in this case means host. I was basically in charge of the smooth operation of everything for the duration of the camp and answered only to Management. 300 kids but also 30+ supervisors who don't necessarily like taking orders from an overworked kid with unkempt hair. The kind of job which tries your brain and body, but also your guts as I discovered a few days later when, my childlike face full of tears, I started packing my stuff in the bags they came in. I was talked into staying by the man who offered me the job, and still is the greatest human being I met.
A job where you have to walk all day, you know, that fast walk they do when going from one office to the other discussing policy with finely crafted humor on the West Wing, that takes a lot of getting used to, especially when everyone around you stares you down, got up after you, and is going to bed before you. On the morning of that day I had the symptoms of what could be called a panic attack, although it was probably as much a symptom of physical exhaustion as it was one of mental. Breathing gets heavy, head spins, ears ring, pins and needles in your face... I stopped feeding bread in the electric breadcutter and propped myself up on a table to rest. I felt immediate relief and pleasure in having my swollen feet off the floor. The world was moving in and out of a blur. Keep in mind I was an experienced mountain hiker and long distance runner. This was not an easy job and this was not a good day.
I didn't blame anyone for not remembering my birthday because I hadn't told them. I thought of that other cheek thing when a guy walked by and told me I shouldn't try to take up a job if I can't do it, but I stomached it more out of resignation than out of Christian love for my neighbour.
I mention this, because that day is my only memorable birthday: I think birthdays are irrelevant because I think age is irrelevant. At some point someone handed me a piece of paper with strings of very tiny kabbalistic signs lining the header and footer of the page. In the middle was a note scribbled in large, partially erased black ink, handwriting which I instantly recognized as my Mother's, kindness sketched by her honest cursives. She commented on the original day with a few sentences and wished me a happy one. Needless to say, the fax brightened my day up.
The summer of '86 was the hottest in decades, and the house in Burgundy our family lives in, due to its orientation and hilltop position always ends up with the coldest temperatures in the winter, and the hottest in the summer. My parents had taken refuge there to avoid the string of relatives which my father's side of the family inevitably sends to new mothers. A week before her due date my mother's water broke over breakfast and she was driven by her parents to a clinic in Auxerre. It didn't take long for the staff there to notice that my mother isn't quite like most people. It seems to be the custom for this fucked up bicephal clan I hyphenate to involuntarily make our difference obvious. The nurse aksed how far she had progressed in her lamaze classes only to be told she hadn't done them. Gasps of shock and the febrile thinking which preceeds panic. But it's because she lacks the capacity to panic that her gynecologist dispensed my mom of lamaze classes, which are essentially there to give the girls something to think about so they don't panic.
Whenever I hear talks of childbirth as the most painful thing a person can endure, I smirk in petto. My Mom's comment on the whole procedure was "I felt bad about forgetting to bring a book, because it was really boring."
I was born with jet-black hair the length of my healthy body. I had that large blue mark down the small of my back, that disappears in a few days and is said to be the mark of Genghis Khan's descendants or something. I had the characteristics which still define me to this day: big brown eyes, and testicles.
I was born on the day of the transfiguration of Christ and baptized on the day of the assumption of Mary which, if there has to be one, I consider my real birthday. I had survived the Chernobyl cloud, I had listened to Haendel's Messiah from the choirs and fell in love with music. It was a fairly routine day but, like most of those that followed, like those fabrics which have the lining slightly intertwined with the upper layer, it slightly shimmered with difference.
Today was a fairly uneventful day. Harrassment by my cat until I fed him, then back to bed for a couple hours. Jogging. Some chocolate cake for lunch. TV. E2 in the evening. Like foam, life slips out of my hands and I only watch. Not because that's all I can do, but because that's all I will do. Tomorrow in the eyes of the law I will be an adult but I am a child. I'm like Musashi at the beginning of that book: full of gifts, but those gifts are useless because I do not truly make choices.
Happy birthday, motherfucker, happy birthday.