Over the years, of course, there were other birthday celebrations. I had skating parties in high school, my birthday being in winter, and parties in general in college and beyond. Scattered throughout my belongings are pictures of me smiling with flowers at age 20, toasting with a glass of champagne at age 30, twirling in a velvet dress at age 40, and nuzzling a dolphin in Mexico at age 50. A few come to mind that were not so great, but all in all I've been lucky. My birthday, the only day of the year that is technically mine, generally has turned out to be a pretty good time.
This year's birthday, I'm happy to report, was one of the good ones. With our now dozens of ways to communicate I got emails, text messages, phone calls, flowers, cards, and visitors, not to mention a fine dinner and fireside chatting with family and a hundred or so salutations on Facebook. I feel fortunate to have so many people who care about me, something I don't really ever forget but which comes clearly into focus on this one day a year when I awake and murmur, "Another twelve months gone by. I wonder what's next?"
With all my possessions, with all my travels, and with all it seems I've accomplished in five-plus decades on this planet, there's really nothing in the world like the people who populate my life. Birthdays are good for remembering that.
This is not to say, however, that we learn much as time passes. Today when two of my friends stopped by I looked a bit like Frankenstein's bride. I wasn't wearing dump clothes, but it was close. Maybe next year I will learn, and will don a ball gown when I climb out of bed to see, at 57, what wondrous things are headed my way.