She had a birthday yesterday, she cried
Took off her glasses let her hair down cried
She told them all at work about the day
How it is no one came?
"Birthday Morning" by The Association
I can’t help it, I just love birthdays.
The colorful balloons, the cake, the gifts, the endless warm greetings from family, friends and acquaintances who you’re usually too awkward and distant around for them to say hello on any other given day. I live for that kind of acknowledgment.
Birthdays are a reminder of how much we all matter. It’s life grabbing us by the shoulders and kindly saying:
“Hey you! You are actually alive in this massive spinning marble and one day you won’t be here at all. Isn’t that beautiful? Where will you be ten years from today? What will your kids be like? Will you have any? — Doesn’t matter because you’re alive right now, so do that instead of planning out your future in your head.”
I was blessed with many siblings and whenever it is one of their birthdays, I like to bake them a cake as a gift. I usually make the same one for everyone (because birthday cake makes everyone happy whether or not they admit to it): A boxed funfetti bundt cake with a thick layer of cream cheese icing and an overly generous coating of rainbow sprinkles all around.
Except for my brother Daniel, who unfortunately hates cakes. So I’ll just buy him an apple pie… I should really learn to make it for the next one.
When it comes to my own birthday, I never know how to treat myself. I enjoy making things for others far more than I do for myself because I can see their reactions and show them how much I care for them without having to say it — because that’s just plain uncomfortable. I want to be more excited, but I often feel guilty when I’m enjoying myself too much.
I like to think of this playlist, which I made four years ago for my 19th birthday, as a chronology of how one feels on one’s birthday; from morning excitement to gloomy existential dread. Each of the songs references birthdays and gift-giving in some way. It’s a way for me to cheer myself up, as hard as it may be, on my one special day.