28th Sun Voyage Complete.
First I want to say this, to all the wonderful people who reached out to me on my birthday this past Tuesday and throughout the week, thank you for making it so special.
Despite heartbreaking and isolating times, I had a beautiful day. This year, I genuinely forgot the day had come, receiving a reminder a week or two previous thanks to an early present but not paying attention to how fast time is seemingly “slipping away”. Working at Trader Joe’s gives you a warped sense of time, you get up go and do the work and come home to use the time how you can with the energy or motivation you have left. There is no real need to know the day of the week, just show up and be your best. We were given off for Easter which was such a blessing. We had a family zoom where we got to see Mom’s side of the family (thank you Laura for setting that up). It was so touching and special despite these times. In fact I see it everywhere, people searching for and prioritizing connection. It went by quick but it was great. And then by some grace of God, I had Monday and a Tuesday off, a three day weekend!
So let’s talk about birthdays, for some, birthdays are always this bright, happy energetic celebration and nothing could slow that. But for others, birthdays often times set us up. You often hear people talk about not loving birthdays some it’s about getting old, but I think a lot of people have a hard time admitting birthdays aren’t the magic we remember as kids and lead to disappointment. We have internal hopes, and as negative as this sounds, are disappointed (even if it was a good day because of this internal anxiety). Last year is a perfect example, I set up a BBQ with lots of my loved ones, and hours before, I snapped - I wanted to cancel, I felt suffocated, I didn’t want it. And there were a number things weighing into that but I have always loved celebrating, whether with the intention of my birthday or just gathering people. I love getting friends and family together, it was always something that made me feel full. for birthdays my intention was always that, even if I couldn’t achieve the feels birthday parties of my youth gave me, I wanted my people to all be together hanging out. Once I got past my panic attack, I really did enjoy the BBQ. (even if hosting feels like you don’t get enough time with anyone.)
This year, in the current times, my birthday felt like the least of my priorities. Over the weekend, I sent a text to some girls friends about a game night with their PICs on Tuesday, knowing it was my last day before heading back into the city for work, it’d be a great way to to round out a long holiday weekend. It wasn’t so much intended to be a birthday call but a gathering. Once I realized it was the same day, I didn’t really mention it keeping my intentions on the group and not myself.
Last week one of my dearest friends Amanda sent me a blanket covered in words of encouragement for my birthday. That gesture reminded me it was close but she's always ahead of the game and frankly I seemingly intentionally blocked the reality of it. I realized it really was already mid April when my skateboard arrived in the mail Monday as did another birthday package with a whoopie cushion and PS4 games, (which that whoopie cushion had me amused for longer than I should admit as an adult woman and former teacher. )
Then Monday, I commented on a photo Claudia posted with the girls doing volcano science
projects and she responded, "we never set up our tea party before all this quarantine time" and asked if I’d be available Tuesday. I was excited, a coincidental tea party with my NY family and on my birthday. I couldn’t have been more excited. 3:30pm tea party with Rosa Gail, Aurora and Claudia. What a treat. And let me tell you, it filled me up. Aurora is getting so big and becoming her own little lady with personality and expression. Apparently the little buddha baby has a temper and is very clear with her wants - while I didn't see it, I can't help giggling (though I'm sure I wouldn't if I were there for it) thinking little Miss Aurora as anything but the snuggle bug. And Rosa Gail, still bounding with energy was shooting love through the phone and boy I could feel it. Catching up with Claudia felt so good. Felt in a strange way like coming home a little bit to my New York family as I like to refer to them. I miss them!
Knowing I tend to get a bit weird for a number of reasons I wasn’t planning to do anything, call family and maybe even go to work on my day off for a few hours to fill time. But let me just say, I’m so glad I didn't go to work. Because I have a tradition to uphold... my midnight call with Bobby Blanco. Growing up together and starting in maybe middle or high school, we’d sit waiting for 12 o clock to strike to see who could get in touch first, I won this year. He will deny it, but his text came through after we were on the phone. We did a quick happy birthday twin moment, and that often a times is the best part of my day. Just this silly tradition that has been going for over a decade with someone I’ve known since I was four. Sometimes it lasts 2 minutes, sometimes longer, it never matters, I always at least go to bed as the start of my birthday with a warm heart and big smile on my face.
When I got off the phone, I had a text from big brother, who fought to stay up just to hit midnight and pass out after sending birthday wishes and I heard from Mike and Emily Day, both with pictures of their handsome boy Cyrus, wishing me birthday goodness. And for whatever reason, these gestures right there had me in tears.
Zero expectations. Trying not to let my desire for something special to happen ruin a perfectly good day off. Being in a place where I haven’t felt like I’ve made a lot of friends yet and in such trying times, I would just be happy to FaceTime my heathy and safe family.
I was surprised just how many NY people reached out, ones I was just starting to get to know through dance classes and auditions. Like maybe I was breaking in here more than I was giving myself credit.
I got calls and texts. I got to FaceTime with friends from all different points in my life. And it hit me, we as humans don’t intentionally lack genuine connection, we are just preoccupied. Which seems like such a “duh Mack” kind of statement but I don’t think we recognize the weight of those small gestures. I think we are relearning them in the times of CoVID. I got to FaceTime Rachel and Santi for a good chunk. And hearing her laugh (a favorite of mine) and just sharing time, it felt like the world paused for that to happen. My annual call from Emerson, even if short and sweet, always makes me feel thought of and loved. Even in all the chaos that her life is as she is working in a hospital in St. Louis. Calls from my extended family in Baltimore, former roommates (even if I missed it, it still means the world). Hearing from people up and down the Eastern seaboard made for a very full day. FaceTime with Mom Dad and Theo, doesn't matter if its my birthday or not, its the best.
OH MY GOD, WAIT.... PSA:
I woke up to a video from Dylan and Laura of Theo pointing at the family photo and saying my name and let me just tell you, I was the happiest. Best ever.
And then ending my day with game night with some folks from Annapolis, which again wasn't really my intention to be a birthday thing. I just missed my friends and wanted to round out my holiday weekend. And they so sweetly, secretly texted, turned out their lights, lit candles and sang to me. I was ready to cry. It was just filled with lots of little moments that felt really big. And let me be clear, it’s not that people haven't been this thoughtful or genuine before... it just felt different this year.
(My video isn't loading :( Maybe another time I can get it to work...)
I had this shift in perspective and I’m not sure what specifically led me here but by put my birthday on the back burner I didn’t set myself up. Sure. But the bigger thing that I haven’t gotten out of my head and hope I keep coming back to everyday, is right now for me what had me in tears before I laid my head to sleep after talking to Bobby and then again after game night with some Annapolis friends was how much gratitude I had knowing and talking to people I love who are safe. Who are healthy. We take that so much for granted, but seeing happy, smiling faces, hearing energy and intention and even rest in many people’s voices. People may be going stir crazy with cabin fever but they were staying in and they were safe. whether by fear of getting it or to protect vulnerable populations, people were thinking of life and humanity beyond themselves.
I am watching people adapt, learn, teach, grow, find new ways of surviving. refocusing on what is important to them or reevaluating what they had put so much energy into previously. The Earth is thriving on this break. The Earth is getting a long overdue reset. She is clearing her waters, animals are finding time to be undisturbed by us humans and returning to their lands, our pollution (well not entirely) is going down. People are helping each other. I see it in gestures, in organizations, I see it in parents and kids and friends and strangers.
And when you turn 28 in the midst of what is so often being seem as this dark and miserable time, I just had this moment of clarity of what is important. People.
Not work (and yes I’m still working and thinking of adding jobs when normal returns, but maybe I won’t). I used to love something my former roommate Greg said, “Mack I don’t know many people who work as hard or crazy as you in order to live life as big” and I think in this move and being frugal and all that, I lost what kind of living I want to do. So as I start my newest revolution around the sun, I’m starting in a new frame of mind, a much more self forgiving but also taking back time for me. For relaxing, reteaching that internal guilt to be compassionate. To remember what fills me, adventure, learning, dance, my family and friends. To prioritize what calls my heart, not just what I feel obligated to like working like a mad woman. I know the times are tough but I'm hopeful. I'm ready to learn. To love. To dance in the streets and rain ( dance, a lot of dancing) and tell people how much I love them because life's too damn short.
Thank you everyone who reached out via Facebook, messenger, Instagram, text and call. You all add so much to my life without your kind words and birthday wishes, but this year, it was extra special. So thank you. With everything I wrote about, your health and safety. You thriving on connection and finding more important things it is my wish that when “normal” returns, we find a way to keep this mindset too.
Love and health to everyone. I miss you. Time to enjoy more of my birthday dessert, dream of days on the water with friends and though living the quarantine life, doing my best to find the morsels of goodness and hope. And hopefully using this time to grow, gain perspective, indulge and discover more about myself and the life I'm going to make happen. Cheers!