Friday, July 11, 2008

The Center of the Universe

Yesterday was my birthday and I awoke feeling like a princess. I felt like I should lie back on satin pillows all day while I did my laundry. My boss had accidentally sent out my birthday announcement a day early so the emails with birthday wishes had already started to come flooding in. You know that feeling of anticipation you get on the day before a holiday? That's how Wednesday felt, like Birthday-eve, so that by the time the actual day arrived it was built up to the point that it felt like a national holiday.

I have never had a birthday like this before. When I was a child no one ever made a big deal out of my birthday except to talk about it all day long. So although I knew the day itself was special it never occurred to me that I should feel special too. My ex-husband tried to make me understand. He was the youngest of three kids and an only son with two teenage sisters when he was born, so he'd always been treated like a prince. He'd had birthday parties his whole life and because his birthday was during the school year and his mother was a teacher the entire school was invited. He feels sorry for us poor kids with birthdays during the summer.

My first birthday after we started dating we went out to dinner with the married couple who had fixed us up and he gave me at least 6 or 7 presents. I remember a tennis racket, a gold necklace, and I'm ashamed to say I can no longer remember the rest of the presents. I was so touched. I didn't feel that my birthday was special but I did know that I was special to him. I don't think there was any doubt after that day that I was going to marry him.

After we were married he started having birthday parties for me to which he would invite all of his friends and make them all buy me presents. He would even tell them what presents to buy. It felt a little bit like when the teacher makes the other kids play with you at school. He would have invited my friends except I didn't really have any. It's not that I'm unfriendly. Quite the opposite. It's just that I was still pretty new in town and the one thing I've forgotten about having a boyfriend is that once you do you no longer hang out with anyone else. Come to think of it, not having a boyfriend in Omaha has been sort of a blessing because it's forced me to get to know lots of other people. (There I go looking at the bright side of things again).

Yesterday I celebrated my birthday at 7 Monkeys, a bar and grille on 156th and Maple in this room. I love this room because it feels like it was meant to be used in an episode of Sex and the City. I think people who know about this sort of stuff would call it art deco. It was my first attempt at getting my friends from different groups together. I have church friends, bar friends and work friends. I didn't invite everyone I know because of course some of my friends just aren't going to mix well with others. Honestly if some of my friends met some of my other friends they'd be so mad at me they'd never speak to me again. If you don't believe me click the link. So along with a tinge of guilt over all the people I didn't invite, there was a feeling of warmth and happiness that I could get everyone together under one roof without having to get married (or die) to do so. After we left 7 Monkeys we went to Mick's! where, I was surprised with a birthday cake lit up with candles. I don't do surprises well, especially when they make me feel like the center of attention and a room full of people are all looking at me. This is due to the childhood trauma of having been raised in a household of about ten aunts and uncles and getting whippings everytime someone called attention to me. There was no such thing as good attention. Attention equalled trouble as far as I was concerned from about age 3. That's why I was shocked to feel no strangeness, no trauma, no feeling of wanting to run and hide when said cake and candles were brought out. All I felt was love from everyone in the room.

In the months since I've written this, the sentiment "all I felt was love" has often been mistaken for "in Love" with Mick. I have to smile because that is soooo my sister. It means that my search for her through my blog-writing has worked and she's "here" in my heart, where I wanted her to be. I have added "from everyone in the room" because that's what I felt and those are my words, not hers. I apologize to anyone who misunderstood. No hard feelings. Even I didn't fully understand till now.

My sister left this world in 2003 and she and I never understood each other. We approached life from completely opposite directions. For me the bar experience was my way of stepping out of my perfectly engineered life and getting a little messy, walking in her shoes and better understanding her choices, of finding the part of myself that I rejected because I didn't like the reflection that I saw in her - my gift of understanding to her and her gift of creativity and of open-mindedness (and open-heartedness to me). I think if she could have given me a birthday present this is exactly what it would have been.


Fuego Diego said...

Happy Birthday! I just wanted to let you know that I now regularly read your blog. You have such a unique voice, one of such stark honesty and a rhythm, that I can't help myself.
I've been so busy with work these past few weeks that I haven't had time to sit down and formulate my thoughts into one post. I've been working through the complex mother issues I have after a recent trip to Wisconsin for the 4th Weekend to see her. I'll publish soon. In the meantime, know that you have a big fan down here in Phoenix!


Ken said...

Happy Birthday!
wish I could have been with you at 7 Monkeys to celebrate.

Leslie said...

Hi Ken & Damon...

Ken, I wish you would have been here too :-)

Damon, thanks so much for the birthday wishes and thanks for being a fan of my blog. I like to think of my style as "gently honest" which is also my personality in real life. I understand about mother issues. Take your time. I used to mull over my posts for a few weeks before I published them because I didn't want to be too raw. Now it's more like a few days or sometimes a few hours. Your style will evolve with practice. It's great to get your comments. I'll be reading your blog too :-)

Carrie said...


I'm late!! but happy birthday!

it sounds like it was a good day; that's wonderful! didn't you spend last year at a wedding or something wedding related for your birthday? or am I making things up again? (I really ought to start writing things down...)

anyways; happy new year! may it be filled with much love, perspective, and peace!