Reflections in Time

Time is a crazy thing.  Some days you think will never get here, and some days go on and on forever.

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Just yesterday I was 12 years old, having a water fight in my (parents) backyard with my Dad and my Uncles and my brother and sisters.

Just yesterday I was 16 and going to my first homecoming dance with my first boyfriend.

Just yesterday my niece Olivia was born and I babysat her on her fourth day of life, light suit and all (she was a bit jaundiced), while my sister Patty went on a job interview.  I was 25.

Just yesterday (really yesterday), Olivia went to her first homecoming dance.  She’s about to turn 16.

Today, I am 41.  Here I sit, halfway through life.  By all measures, I am middle aged.  How can that be?  It was just yesterday.

It’s almost my birthday.  Again.

When I was younger, I would call out how many days were left until my birthday, and I would often begin before October 1st.

“Hey Mom, did you know that there are 47 days until my birthday?  Hey Mom, did you know that there are only 18 days until my birthday?  Hey Mom did you know that there are only 6 days until my birthday?”

As if she could have ever forgotten in a million years.  I bet my Mom knows my birthdate better than her own.    I bet she wanted to smack me during those growing up years, announcing how many days for over a month.  Every single year I did that.  I want to smack me now for doing it back then.

Somewhere along the line, that all changed.  I stopped counting the days.  I’m pretty sure it was the year I turned 30.  The year that middle age started peering at me from around the corner.  That was the first birthday I didn’t want, and that was mind boggling to me.

The day I turned 30, I didn’t want to get out of bed.  My Rooster had a giant present for me and was urging me to get up.  He had been working out of town and had come home for just one day, my birthday.  “Get up, open your gift, I’m taking you to lunch!  Happy Birthday Baby!”

I burst into tears.

But I did get up, and I stopped crying, but was terribly sad all the same.  I was also terribly shocked, I would have bet you a million dollars that I would never feel that way about my birthday.  I got ready and opened my gift.  The Victoria’s Secret bathrobe I wanted, in red, my favorite color.  I cried some more.

Gathering myself once again, I got out of bed and took a shower, I dressed for the day, I dragged my feet and I cried.  Not big sobs, and there was no wailing, just silent tears.  Not unlike the ones rolling down my face now as I remember the day.  It was just yesterday.

We headed out to my birthday lunch and my loving man hid his annoyance well.  I was almost angry that I was sad.  On the way he told me that we had to stop at McClendon’s because he had to pick up some materials for his job, he was heading back to Oregon the next day.  I sadly followed him around the store, as he picked up some masking tape, some spray paint, some new brushes and some spray tips.  The tears had turned to sniveling, and try though I did to act like it was just any other day, I was still so very upset.

Back in the truck, we headed to lunch, or so I thought.

We weren’t on the road for 10 minutes before he pulled off on the side of River Road near the bridge.  I guessed maybe mechanical issues, I wasn’t all that interested, we obviously weren’t going to lunch on the side of the River….

He grabbed the spray paint and told me to come with him.

“What’s going on?”  I asked, sliding down the bank of the Puyallup River.  Tears all but forgotten.

“You aren’t 30, you are 12.”  And with that confusing statement, he handed me a can of red spray paint.  Then he ducked under the bridge.  He quickly sprayed out “Joe + Joy 4-Ever” on the concrete.  “C’mon, let’s do this”.

We sprayed our names, each others names, hearts, smiley faces and he even sprayed me a happy birthday.  We laughed, we stumbled around, we almost fell in the River several times.  We didn’t get caught, and you know what?  I was 12.  I will never, ever forget how he saved my 30th birthday.  Because you know what, I didn’t shed one single more tear all day.   I enjoyed the family party and later I over enjoyed my birthday at the bar with our friends. Screw the calendar.  I was 12 and it was yesterday.

When I turned 40, it wasn’t nearly as bad, but I was a little sad.  Another decade had gone by and while we had both done a lot of growing up, and had better toys, a better home, better vehicles and better attitudes, the sadness crept in.

And boy did my wonderful Rooster and all of our friends do their best to make sure I wasn’t sad.  And outwardly, I sure wasn’t.  There was an incredible “Witches and Warlocks” surprise party, which in turn has led to an annual birthday/costume party, that everyone we know asks about and plans costumes for.

And the day after the party, there was a surprise trip to Tillamook, Oregon, my very favorite place in the world, to the Tillamook Cheese Factory.  (I know, I’m a dork, and I love cheese).  We also visited some beautiful beaches along the coast and toured not only the cheese factory, but a jerky factory and an oyster shucking warehouse.

The very best part about my 40th birthday though, was when we drove the monster truck down onto the beach and got out for a photoshoot.  “Change”.  When we were done, he surprised me once again by pulling out two cans of spray paint and we tagged the rocky cliffs that we had parked right next to.  “Rooster (heart’s) SmartyPants”, which is who we had become ten years later, but we didn’t forget to also paint “Joy + Joe 4-Ever”.    That happened yesterday too.

My birthday is in 17 days and I will be 42 years old.  There will be a party or two and I will be happy to be the center of attention, my every wish granted.  I am a spoiled brat by almost any measure of the imagination, and I will not be sad.

I’ve reached a place of acceptance, which I am sure will change as I approach the next decade mark, and I bet we tag something again, and I bet I will be ok with it.  I don’t count down the days (ok only in my mind) but the connotation is not really celebratory, but it also isn’t sad, it just is.  It’s today.

Time is a crazy thing.

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