Birthday present

July 22, 2010

Today is my birthday, my thirty-sixth, which means I am three dozen years old, which feels as though it should be momentous, but mostly, well, isn’t.  Too much else is going on.  When I was young, I would have been horrified at the thought of my birthday not being a big deal, but today I find it soothing.  I’ll finish up at work, N will give me a present and make dinner.  I’ll try to get Dot to sleep so that we can watch Enchanted April and maybe make out a little on the futon.  An embarrassment of riches.

Though perhaps I should mention that I count as good any birthday that doesn’t involve anything as horrible as me staring at a reality tv show in a futile attempt to combat the despair of being on bedrest due to CDH complications.   I still think of that woman I was then and I wish I could fold her in my arms and tell her, You’re right; it’s bad, really bad, and it’ll get better and then much worse.  But even though it’ll be horrible, you’ll somehow get through it.  And you’ll never have to do this again.

Knock on wood, of course.

I used to think that the universe gave me presents.  Sunsets, birdsong, smiles in corridors, signs of hope, rain when I was sad.  Now, I’m suspicious of any such thoughts.  Sometimes I am thoroughly scornful of them.  Yet every once in a while I catch myself wondering.  Maybe the universe, or my fairy godmother, or some benign spirit is capable of gifts, but only small ones.  Maybe the life and death stuff has to be set at random for some reason I don’t/won’t/can’t comprehend.  In any case, I’ve received a small and sparkling birthday present.

I had no idea who Regina Spektor was until yesterday, when N called my attention to a song a friend had put on a mixed CD for us.  The friend is also the chair of his department, and also (and perhaps not irrelevantly) the father of another baby boy who died too soon.  I listened to the song in the car, to it’s playful piano and almost-but-not-quite-cheery tune and I smiled.  And then I focused on the lyrics.  I listened to it again.

And she was singing to me, singing for me as I try to cope with memories and travel planning and missing Teddy like crazy and being relieved that I don’t have to lie on the futon and stew in despair again.  This song felt like it was made precisely for this summer with August staring me down and asking me how much I can take.  How can I not love a song with lyrics like this?

This is how it works
You’re young until you’re not
You love until you don’t
You try until you can’t
You laugh until you cry
You cry until you laugh
And everyone must breathe
Until their dying breath

No, this is how it works
You peer inside yourself
You take the things you like
And try to love the things you took
And then you take that love you made
And stick it into some
Someone else’s heart
Pumping someone else’s blood
And walking arm in arm
You hope it don’t get harmed
But even if it does
You’ll just do it all again

And I wanted to share it, in case you needed something like this today, too.

On the Radio



  1. Happy Birthday. I should give YOU a gift on your birthday and instead you’re the generous one. Thank you for reminding me of this song x

  2. Happy 36th. That does seem like one that should be momentous.

    Nice song. Deep. Honestly, I have been avoiding songs like this since Bea born. I just can’t afford to tear up at all times anymore. But this one would have made it onto *that* playlist.

  3. Thank you for sharing this song on your birthday.

    Happy Birthday, I hope you have a wonderful celebration.

  4. Happy Birthday!

  5. I wish you all the best for your birthday. I do hope that it will be a beautiful day for you!

  6. A beautiful song for your birthday. Happy 36th! I was amazed how uneventful 35 was given M arrived 6 weeks before.

  7. Happy birthday. Thank you for sharing your beautiful present.

  8. Happy birthday – I am breathless listening to that song. Perfect, just perfect.

  9. Oh I love Regina Spektor. Great song.
    Thanks so much for sharing the clip and the happiest of birthdays to you.
    With love.

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