Why My Quarantine Birthday Was Actually One of the Best Ever
I was dreading my quarantine birthday. How would I celebrate my milestone year sans party, cake, and gifts?
An old Yiddish saying notes that “man makes plans and God laughs.” I imagine God cracking up when he heard my husband and I outlining our game plan to celebrate our milestone birthdays. Hiking Mount Kilimanjaro was one option. Riding elephants in Thailand ran a close second. Sitting in our backyard during a pandemic didn’t make the top ten, surprisingly enough, but that’s where we ended up. I will always remember my quarantine birthday as the day I made eye contact with a red cardinal, my heart cracked wide open, and for one stunning moment, I saw the world and all its wonders in high definition. Equipped with my new superpowers, I got a front-row seat to see a few things that had eluded my pre-pandemic eyes. By the way, you weren’t the only person born on your birthday. Can you guess how many living people share your birthday?
I took note of how people made me feel
A friend surprised me by getting up at 4:30 a.m. to place a sign outside my house that read, “Honk to wish Stacey Happy Birthday.” My dog put his head on my lap when I logged onto to read the dreadful daily news. My family got me fluffy slippers and a pink bathrobe that looked like the ones I used to wrap around them when they were babies. Every act of kindness made my heart go thump.
I turned off Netflix and tuned into Mother Nature
Sitting in my backyard listening to a bird concert, I noticed how tall the pine trees have grown over the years. I saw a red cardinal staring at me with the gaze of someone I missed. I wondered why I had been staring at a screen for so much of the time when there is a magic show on my patio?
I found yoga pants and no makeup are much comfier than heels and concealer
Radu Bighian/Getty Images
My official birthday suit was my favorite pair of yoga pants and a hoodie with a heart, the perfect outfit to march around my neighborhood and greet the yellow crocuses popping out to welcome spring. No make-up, no Spanx, but I felt resplendent in my unapologetic freedom.
I belted out,” It’s my party and I will cry if I want to”
That may be an exaggeration, but I did feel the sadness in the world pulse through my body and shed a shower of tears. I belong to a world that is going through a difficult time. I am glad to be part of the human race and pledge to be an agent of light and hope in its transformation.
I stopped performing for an imaginary audience
As I sat on the patio in my backyard, I realized that outside of my inner circle of true friends and family, no one cares what I am doing. They are too busy curating their life on social media to read my latest post. While no one was looking, I let my eyes close in the soft spring breeze. When I opened them I saw the blue sky in high definition. In lieu of a cake, my daughter rolled a small ball of cookie dough and stuck a candle in it. I gobbled it up quickly then remembered no one was watching. Now, I am writing about it with pride. Ever wonder why people blow out candles and eat cake for their birthday? Well, the real origins of the birthday cake will fascinate you.
Now is the perfect time to jettison what’s not working in my life
Uladzimir Zuyeu/Getty Images
What am I waiting for? I need to bid adieu to people that can’t shine until they blow out my light. I must toss those high school hip-hugger jeans that are not meant for a grown woman. I promise to look at my phone less and see how I can help repair the world more.
I learned to embrace uncertainty
Up until my quarantine birthday, my prior celebrations were carefully choreographed, brimming with people and presents. This year I awoke with no specific plans and let the day unfold slowly and spontaneously. I shared stillness, serenity, laughter, and tears with family. At the end of the day, my dog looked up at me with eyes that said,” She finally gets it.” I really don’t know what the next day or the rest of my life will bring. And that is just fine.