It’s My Birthday! Now What?

Birthday Cake
Image by chidorian via Flickr

A 22-year-old from New York City gave birth to me in Vancouver on June 6, 1957.

Today, I live near her birthplace and she, in Victoria, BC, lives near mine. We each married a man from across the 49th parallel.

It’s a gorgeous sunny day here in New York and, thanks to Facebook, birthday wishes have already arrived from Bhutan, London, Paris, Cracow, New Mexico, Tuscany and San Francisco — I have, literally, a world of friends, whose love and support are the greatest gift I could have. Being a career journalist/author partnered with a career photographer/editor means we share global tribes of fun, talented, adventurous people passionate about ideas, people and connection.

It’s day filled with a mixture of joy and sadness.

I’m a little terrified of being this age, although — yes — better than the alternative. I read the personal obits in the New York Times and yesterday read one of a woman, 45, who had made partner in one of the city’s top law firms but was cut down by cancer.

I know how incredibly fortunate I to have a birthday at all.

I normally get a card from my mother, and am her only child, but she is too angry with me for applying to become her legal guardian (she now has dementia) and instead is clinging to a weird and controlling woman who loathes me — and who shares power of attorney with me. So, today, I get silence from my own mother.

My father, thankfully, is a hale 81 — and hopes to be here this weekend, driving down from Ontario visiting friends, to share his 82d with us with dinner in Manhattan and maybe tickets to the ballet. We fought bitterly for years and in the past four (since the death of his wife, a woman I never made peace with) have become closer than I ever thought possible. That’s a gift.

My sweetie, Jose, plans to take me on a silent Buddhist retreat, mid-July. You can imagine my mixed feelings! But I’m exhausted (happily) from promoting my new book “Malled” non-stop for two months and can really use some quiet time in the country. Not sure how much meditating or chanting I’ll do, but we’ll see.

Tonight, I’m making pork roast and we’ll eat on the balcony and enjoy our river view. There’s a cheesecake in the freezer and I’ll make a mango-strawberry coulis.

I’ve been thinking about some of my best past birthdays:

10…My mother throws a terrific pool party at the first-ever Four Seasons Hotel in downtown Toronto. (My new book has a blurb from the chain’s founder, Issy Sharp. Small world?)

12…We’re living in Montreal that year, but several good friends come the five hours by train from Toronto, and we have a pajama party on the living room floor. I have photos of me with a cake covered with sparklers, happily cringing.

16…After arriving in my super-cliquey Toronto high school halfway through Grade 10, I’ve finally made some really good friends. Joyce organizes and throws a surprise party for me. Yay!

20…Both my parents are traveling, far away and out of touch, my Mom in Latin America somewhere and my Dad and his wife on his boat in the Med. My uncle Bernie, a well-known actor from London, is doing a show in Toronto and takes me out for dinner.

21…I’ve been traveling alone for months in Europe and want to wake up somewhere amazing for my 21st. I blow insane money and stay, one night, at the Gritti Palace in Venice. So worth it.

26…Paris! I’m at the end of the best year of my life, on a journalism fellowship with 27 others from 19 countries. My gal pals take me out for dinner there.

30…My mom hosts a party for me in her Toronto house. I still treasure two gorgeous art glass vases I received that day.

What was your happiest birthday?

17 thoughts on “It’s My Birthday! Now What?

  1. Happy birthday! My all time favorite birthday? Every. Single. One. Of. Them!!

    🙂 I love birthdays – parties – presents – songs – cake – and celebrations. Some have been less “eventful” than others but all have been wonderful.

    Enjoy your pork roast, cheesecake & river view! MJ

  2. I’m with MJ – every birthday I’ve celebrated is my all time favorite. Although, Freshman year in college, my friends posted my picture (complete with an announcement that it was my birthday) throughout the entire LARGE college campus. I spent the entire day with happy birthday greetings from nearly every person that walked by me. This was in 1988. I love my friends.

    Happy birthday, Caitlyn!

  3. Happy birthday! My favourite birthday was either my 25th, which was spent in Prague, or my 27th, which was spent kayaking in Tofino. For whatever reason, I love being somewhere away from home on my birthday. It makes it feel more special! 🙂 I hope you have a great day, and all the best for the year ahead!

    1. Love these stories! Tofino is gorgeous…and I hear that Prague is as well.

      The furthest I’ll get away today from home is out to buy a little bottle of champagne. 🙂 After a bike ride in the sunshine.

  4. Happy Birthday! I hope you were spoilt rotten today 🙂

    Best birthday so far – my 30th last year. My best friend and I celebrated jointly (we’re both November babies) by going away for a week to Byron Bay, a wonderful little town on the New South Wales coast, and having a blast.

  5. Thanks!!

    It turned out to be a perfect day: gorgeous weather; BIG news for Malled (possible network deal); dozens of messages from pals and that dinner on the terrace at sunset. Really one of the happiest ever. Thanks for being part of it!

  6. jacquelincangro

    Happy Belated Birthday! I enjoyed the list of your most memorable birthdays past.

    I didn’t stay at the Gritti Palace, but I remember seeing it when I was visiting Venice many years ago. A divine treat!

  7. Hi, Belated Happy Birthday (mine is the 4th!). Just wanted to stop by and thank you for visiting and commenting on my blog post featured on Freshly Pressed this week.

    My favorite birthday?: my 18th. I graduated from high school that day.
    My 2nd favorite birthday? My 45th. It was the eve of my son’s graduation from high school.
    (We’re obviously not school fans!)

  8. Phil

    I know I’m a bit late to the party, but I’ll add my sentiments as another stranger wishing you a Happy Birthday, even if belatedly. Hope you enjoyed your special day. I do hope the situation with your mom will improve.

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