Today is my birthday.
Celebrations after twenty-five are often treated with disdain (“Grow up, already!”), but I can’t help it: January 31 will always be a red-letter day for me. Birthdays were a big deal growing up; they were basically the only holiday my family celebrated. Well – unless you count our annual tradition of protesting as many Christmas church services in our hometown as the seventy of us could cover in a single night, regaling the parishioners with a version of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” rewritten to describe [what we perceived to be] gay sex practices in graphic detail. “Five golden showers!” You get the idea. I was maybe seven or eight when I learned the song, so these weren’t concepts I understood (at least, not until Gramps explained them from the pulpit on Sunday), but I sang along heartily anyway.
Do you count that? I don’t count that.
This month has been full of reflection for me. That’s partly because I started my first Whole30® on January 1, which I successfully completed yesterday (Miley grin, tongue and all😉 ). It’s impossible to truly change the fundamentals (food, sleep, exercise) without it fundamentally changing your outlook on life. They’re at the bottom of Maslow’s hierarchy for a reason, my friends! Depression, guilt, anxiety, sadness – they haven’t disappeared, but they’ve become so much easier to deal with. I’m lighter, mentally and physically, than I’ve been in years, and that’s something worth celebrating on my twenty-eighth.
The reflection also stems from the fact that after a year spent on the road, I’ve finally landed in a place I plan to be for awhile. Deadwood, Los Angeles, Kansas City, Des Moines, Chicago, Sandusky, Hartford, New York, Boston, Montreal, and I wasn’t anywhere for longer than a month at a time. Three weeks, three days – these were the norms. It was equal parts running to adventure, to awareness, to understanding, and running from “real life,” from decision-making, from the past, from the future. It was a glorious mess.
But that’s a story for another day. In this moment, I just want to share the biggest part of my thoughts: my overwhelming love and gratitude to the people who have shared their time, homes, kindness, experiences, and love over the past 1.25 years, people who welcomed Grace and me into their lives when ours had been all but emptied of those we held (and hold) dear.
In order of appearance: Bob. Keith. Jason. Libby. Logan. Dan. Amy. Drew. Aidan. Josh. Stephanie. Gabe. Brandy. Hez. Hayley. Tim. Uncle. Shirley. Bella. Adam. Graham. Chris. Larry. LeAndre. Dana. Timothy. Jeff. Moïsh. Paige. Steven. Taylor. Kate. Dylan. Emma. Susanne. Pepijn. Louis. Afentra. Danny. Laura. Dustin. Cora. Ryan. Chad. Nana. Tammy. Amanda. Tanner. Hank. Sully. Dave. Josh. Will. Jacie. Heidi. Andrew. Jennika. Joe. Michelle. Sam. Mariah. Dave. Emily. Grant. Daniel. Tristan. Anne. Wendy. Lauren. Nate. Kevin. Mac. Jake. Justin. Dan. Jack. Jane. Derek. Chad. Amanda. Brittnie. John. Scott. Monte. David. Yonah. Rachel. Moshe. Tzofiya. Shlomo. Nafi. Marcus. Josh. Ben. Dani. Meira. Josh. Michael. Eric. Zadie. Lauren. David. Ayo. Chad. Pauley. Krissy. Jeremy. Jeremy. Dan. Barbara. Chad. Kurt. Myra. Josh. Eric. Tess. Jessica. Brett. John. Joyce. Grace. Keith. Eleanor. Al. Davis. David. Maria. Marina. Dima. Jen. Mel. Sarah. Ray. Chris. Rebecca. Rob. Jess. Blaire. Kayla. DJ. Sarah. Lacy. Louis. Katie. Joey. Mandy. Greta. Blake. David. Alicia. Tara. Maggie. Glenn. Emily. Darrel. Ryan. Nicole. Ava. Thomas. Adrian. Molly. Ed. Karrie. Halle. Kate. Jasper. Diane. Tia. Sandy. Brad. Desi. Joyce. Marlin. Jerry. Cindy. Ronnie. Joan. Amy. Mike. Jaime. Angel. Mike. Sarah. Mila. Nolan. Jake. Kat. Sydney. Gabe. Ryan. Lishai. Michal. Julie. Steven. Jake. Darren. Carly. Will. Carolina. Kalervo. Amanda. Sarah. Avi. Mandy. Jeremy. Lucas. Alex. Jon. David. Jade. Matt. Karen. Briah. Tamira. Sapira. D’veer. Karen. Kell. Simja. Miguel. Sandy. Ido. Noa. Marie. Victor. Bracha. Margot. Ohad. Bill. Tyler. Eileen. Deborah. Theresa. Louis. John.
My memory is good (I get it from my mama, who, given any date of her existence, can describe it to you, including what she ate, with relative accuracy and certainty) – but it’s not perfect. To all those named and unnamed, and to every nameless stranger whose kindness I was fortunate to encounter on my path: please know that you have profoundly impacted my life. Every act and word of understanding, generosity, and care showed me how different humanity was than I had believed. At first, it was shocking to me (how wrong I’d been!). It’s still something that makes me marvel. And I’m more determined than ever to share that love and compassion with others.
Cheers to my twenty-eighth year for teaching me that we *all* need it.