It’s my birthday.
And not just any birthday, but the birthday where jokingly calling myself MeMaw has become something of a reality. I’ve dreaded this day. Dreaded it for a hundred years.
But the reality? I doubt that I’m as old as Noah’s wife was, when he started building the ark, and that thought is keeping me stable at the moment. That and the bumper sticker that I saw not long ago claiming that the key to attaining a long life is to have more birthdays. Clearly, Noah’s wife had more birthdays.
So yes. I was alive for the ’70s. And what do I remember most about that decade?
I’ll tell you what. It was the fact that I coveted my friend Becky’s Holly Hobbie bell bottoms and matching shirt with the peasant sleeves when we were in the first grade. And the fact that I had the hottest bike with the big banana seat in the neighborhood. And I actually remember when my parents stopped using the 8-track player and bought themselves (gasp!) a cassette player. I remember seeing Star Wars in the theater, and knowing that I had finally reached an age where I could see PG movies. (Before Star Wars, I had only gone to G movies in the theater. Clearly, I thought that I was quite mature and grown up at the age of 7.) (And another thing…Can I use parenthesis back to back like this? I still refer to Star Wars as the first episode, even though it drives the boy crazy, and he corrects me all the time on it, claiming that what I knew to be the first episode is now, in fact, the fourth episode.) And then…then I fell in love with Luke Skywalker, and I swore that I would marry him one day, because I had never seen anyone so handsome, and the fact that he could swing a lightsaber around was just a really grand bonus, in case he had to fight Storm Troopers when we lived in outer space together. I remember seeing the previews for Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and being shot down by my parents, as they refused to let me see it. I remember the Mug-O-Lunch (which was a package of instant noodles, that needed hot water added to them), and I can remember begging for one of these unique meals at the grocery store, each and every time we went. When my mother finally caved to my whining one afternoon and let me purchase one, we went home and made it, and it was very possibly the worst meal I’d ever eaten (other than tuna casserole, that is). We watched Charlie’s Angels and Gunsmoke on our nineteen-inch television, which lacked a remote control and had a dial on it, if you were so inclined to spin it and change the channel, and we always had Kool-Aide to drink.
And then there were the ’80s, and my sister and I welcomed the Smurfs into our living room on Saturday mornings, and we spent our allowances buying the little blue figures at the local discount store. We played outside every chance we had, we rode our bicycles everywhere, and we bought an Atari, which completely revolutionized our lives. No one could beat my high score at Pac Man, and my ego is still a little inflated over that, even today! (And after watching the boy play a game on the PlayStation 3 this weekend, we agreed that the Atari graphics are no longer as fabulous as we remember them being in 1983.) I had the Farrah Fawcett haircut, and spent hours curling it. I had cassette tapes of Loverboy, Madonna, Michael Jackson, and Bon Jovi. (I gave up on Luke Skywalker, and decided that I’d one day grow up and marry Jon Bon Jovi. Or Scott Baio. Or maybe even Michael J. Fox. It was a tough decision.) I used gallons of hairspray in the ’80s and suffered through an uncountable tally of bad perms. I had no idea what the price of gas was, nor did I even care. My friend, Theresa, and I were absolutely inseparable, even though she ate Hostess Ding Dongs every single day for lunch. (For the record, I hated Ding Dongs with a passion.) We wore acid washed jeans, white leather boots with fringe, and Swatch watches. We wanted to date guys from the Air Force after seeing Top Gun, and we learned the quadratic equation, which, I might add, I’ve never had to use since high school, even though Mr. B assured us that we’d use it for life. I think Mr. B lied to us.
In the ’90s, I was off to college. I rode a mountain bike everywhere I went, dated someone who was entirely wrong for me, studied hard, and eventually graduated, after the boy who was all wrong for me and I parted ways. I moved back to Small Town, USA, where Hubs eventually asked me to play on his co-ed softball team, and then I promptly broke my nose and couldn’t play. And Hubs (who was just Cute Boy then) called to check on me. And he asked me to see a movie with him. Because apparently he was attracted to girls who had noses that tilted to the left and came with two very swollen and very black eyes. (Clearly, his standards were low.) Eventually, the nose healed (thanks to surgery), the black eyes returned to normal, Cute Boy became Boyfriend, and I walked down an aisle right beside my dad, and I met Boyfriend at the end of it. A pastor said some words, Boyfriend kissed me (and I nearly swooned), and that’s how I snagged Hubs, forever and ever, until death do we part, or until one of us fails to bring the other one a cup of love from Starbucks, if one of us ventures into the coffee shop without the other one.
Then 2000 hit. Our computers didn’t crash, which really relieved Hubs, even though he’d promised that they wouldn’t. And nine days into 2000, I took a little test that said, “Prepare yourself. The baby is coming, and you are done sleeping through the nights.” Eventually we had the boy, who decided he didn’t want to breathe the night he was born, and who had himself life-flighted to a bigger and better hospital far, far away. Hubs flew with him, which was a danger in itself, because, up until that point, Hubs’ philosophy was simply this, which he had spoken aloud several times: “I don’t know how you tell babies apart. They’re like soda crackers — they all look exactly alike.” I let this man fly off with our newborn son, but I had grabbed his hand before he left the hospital for the airport and said, “Do! Not! Lose! My! Baby!” I think that my mom said the exact same words to Hubs. I’m pretty sure that even Hubs’ mama said those words to Hubs. And Hubs was very diligent, and he kept an eye on the little creature who looked like a soda cracker, until I could get to the bigger and better hospital myself. (Since our little soda cracker turned out to be the spitting image of my dad, just with Hubs’ brilliant blue eyes and my toes, we’re pretty sure that Hubs managed to keep track of the appropriate baby in the great big hospital.)
And since 2000, my life has been a whirlwind of Legos, scraped knees, stories, stolen evenings when we send the boy to stay at Mam and Pa’s house, so that Hubs and I can catch a grown-up dinner out, and many, many coffee dates with my friends.
So far, it’s been a really great life.
And this morning, when I was whining to my dad that I was hitting a major milestone of a birthday, my dad said to me, “Honey, eventually you’ll turn 50 and you’ll remember the birthday you’re having today, and you’ll think that you were young.” My dad usually has some very intelligent words to pass along.
My mom even sang Happy Birthday to me first thing this morning, as she recalled the twenty-one hours’ worth of hard labor she experienced several years ago.
So yes, my birthday has been a good one, and I’m settling into the simple fact that I’m another year older. My friends treated me to coffee at Starbucks this morning, I had lunch at the school with my boy, Hubs brought me an enormous bouquet of flowers, and I laughed hysterically when I went to my PhotoShop class at the college tonight with Susan and Missi.
And the boy? Well, he tried to keep my birthday real this morning — tried to just keep it in perspective with every other day of the school year — by filling the bathroom sink with water and floating a Lego boat in it, instead of making his bed and putting his shoes and socks on. Needless to say, when I yelled out, “It’s time to leave for school,” my boy was up to his elbows in water, smiling from ear to ear, and completely barefoot. And to think that I thought he was in his room, making his bed and pulling socks onto his feet.
Clearly he had no plans to make today any more special than normal. That’s what I love about that kid. He just keeps things real around here.