I remember when birthdays meant something. When we used to hand out invitations bathed in glitter. When our parents would assemble treat bags for the guests and a cake would be put on order or baked lovingly the day before. Sometimes we would rent a karaoke machine and sing our hearts out, the basement pumping 90s hits until the sun went down. Sometimes we would have castle building contests in the damp sand by the sea and I would build towers topped in seaweed until they toppled down, collapsing back into the waves. The patted-down battlements succumbing to the gray-white tide. My favourite part was always when it came time to blow out the candles. The heat against my face as I held the deep breathe for just a second before blowing to glance quickly up at my Mom.
“Don’t forget to make a wish.”
The chant of my friends when I cut that first slice of cake. The blush that covered my cheeks when I pulled the knife out with stripes of icing light against the silver blade.
“Ooooooh! Lindsay! Now you have to tell us who you like!”
Chocolate frosting licked from my fingertips and a sugar coma, presents piled in a corner of my room, curling up satisfied. Another year gone, a whole new one spread before me like an empty road leading anywhere.
These days the birthdays are planned by myself or not at all. The guests don’t think twice about canceling at the last minute. The birthdays of my youth bounce in my head when sick with wine I wonder where they’ve gone. The chanting of friends reduced to the rumbling of Facebook. I bury the day at the bottom of the trashcan beneath herb& spice dip containers, Lays lightly salted, diet Pepsi bottles, and chocolate wrappers. I eat my disappointment and chase it with hard pear cider and when the morning comes I stop pretending. If this is all we have, is it enough?