Tonight I am writing early. Tonight I plan to sleep. This is something of a radical concept for me, the plan to sleep. I do not indulge in sleep as recreation; naps seem pure extravagance. And I do not court sleep. Instead, I wait till it takes me by force, like a lover who won’t be denied. I sleep only because I can no longer remain awake, a perpetual child trying to stay up for the celebration at midnight.
But tonight, my glass holds the last of a good pinot noir, my cup holds pomegranate seeds covered in dark chocolate, my bookcase holds three cards and a fresh new journal, and in my fridge sit three kinds of scrumptious leftovers, all birthday gifts. Tonight The Eels are singing End Times and I am courting sleep.
Tonight I am pausing to contemplate the amazing people who have wandered into my life; strong women, sensitive men, old friends who have loved me through unimaginable hardship, and new friends who can only imagine me as the confident woman I have become. I don’t know that I’ve done anything extraordinary to merit the appearance of such exceptional people in my life. Even my sweet tempered cat made the decision to adopt me, not the other way around. And as I sit here listening to guitar strummed in a minor key, I feel treasured in a way that only the celebration of my birthday can make me feel.
People ask me how I came to love my birthday so much, why I celebrate it for far longer than just the one day or the one party, and I can tell them the history, how this began with a mother who made every birthday special, how my husband made every year a different celebration to make me happy, how being single taught me the value of reaching out to share this joy with others, but that’s just a story. The fact is that I have, without conscious intent, learned to nurture myself by way of my birthday. The idea of nurturing myself has always sounded, quite frankly, like a lot of work learning new habits and doing things I can’t afford. Like I said, I don’t even indulge in sleep.
But my birthday, that is an indulgence I love, and over the years my birthday has loved me back by way of the people who join me to celebrate it. This year I received the most beautiful carving of a Hindu goddess, a statue not a figurine, of the goddess who nurtures growth and abundance. The man brought this to me purchased it for my last birthday but was unable to send it. For a year he has carried it with him on aircraft carriers and missions to North Korea; three times to Afghanistan, he carried it; and with him it has remained until he could land here, on my birthday, to give it to me.
Large or small, every gift is from the heart of someone I care about and so every gift brings to me another heart song of appreciation, and all year long these songs weave for me a lullaby of love. Tonight I will court sleep by listening to the lullaby that sings from all corners of my home. The treasure of sleep cannot be far.