Recently I started listening to music while blogging. In the past it’s been too distracting, but since I live with my parents and people make noise, it’s been easier to choose the distraction of music over the distraction of Days of Our Lives. Currently I’m listening to Mama’s Big Ones, the greatest hits album of Mama Cass. It’s one of my favorite things in the entire world. If you ever want to get me into bed, play this record on vinyl and ask me to dance. I’ll be a sure thing. Also, it wouldn’t hurt if your name were Zac Efron.
This morning I had blood drawn as part of a routine checkup. I don’t mind being stuck by a needle, but it always fascinates me that my life force can just be drained out like that, part of me neatly divided into four little glass bottles, shipped off to a lab, and translated onto a sheet of paper. This man has high cholesterol. Once I had a mortician tell me that when someone dies, they drain the blood and pour it down a hole in the floor. There you go–down the tubes–into the sewer. It’s weird, something I can’t quite wrap my brain around.
Usually before giving blood, I try to clean my diet up during the preceding weeks, but this time I was all, fuck cholesterol–it’s just a number. But then I still did what I usually do after the blood was drawn–eat and drink like a college freshman. Granted this makes no logical sense, but it always feels like I have a free pass for a day or two, at least until the tests are completed and I have to face the facts.
This evening I taught dance at Todd and Bonnie’s house, then we sat on their porch for several hours and swapped stories. I’m writing this blog as if it were the day before my birthday, but since it’s after midnight, the big day has arrived. (Happy birthday to me.) So to kick off the celebration, Todd and Bonnie served up beer, and later Bonnie and I did shots of American Honey out of plastic food containers because their kitchen is being remodeled and sometimes you have to improvise. Honestly, it was the perfect and healthy pre-birthday dinner–you know–the kind where healthy means substituting alcohol for quinoa and chocolate chip cookies for grilled chicken.
Hey, I’m a dance instructor, not a dietician.
Tonight Todd and Bonnie and I somehow started talking about how incredible (almost unbelievable) it is to be alive. Todd’s been working on his family tree, and he said if any of his ancestors hadn’t gotten together and decided to have a kid (or–in his family–twelve), he wouldn’t be here. I said, “Yeah, if some other sperm had made it to my mom’s internal finish line first, I could easily be a totally different person. Crazy. (And I can’t believe I just said “my mom’s internal finish line.” I’m blaming the American Honey.)
Sometimes I forget that so much happened before I showed up on the planet, so much that bares a direct influence on where I was born, what my life is like, who I am. There’s a popular thought in the New Age culture that says our souls pick our parents, actually choose the circumstances we’re born into. Like, that looks like a challenge–send me in, Coach. Sometimes I think this idea is a load of crap. Other times I really like it. It helps me find meaning in both the mundane and the difficult as well as connect with that steady part of myself that’s able to weather any storm. I think, Maybe I didn’t know exactly what I was getting into but knew I was stronger than any circumstance. I don’t have facts to back this theory up, but that last part feels especially true to me.
Regardless of how it happened, thirty-seven years ago my mom was in labor. Just before nine in the morning, I was crowning and being welcomed to the planet. When I got home tonight, I listened to Mama Cass sing “There’s a New World Coming” and danced in my driveway under the half-full moon. The air was cool, the way it always is this time of year when the seasons start to change. I love the air in fall. It always feels so light and fresh, so crisp and clean. Dancing, I thought, What a great time to be born, what a great time to be alive. I’m so glad to be here.
Now it’s four in the morning, and it’s not looking like I’ll get much sleep tonight. I have a full day planned tomorrow, and I’m sure you’ll hear all about it. With any luck, I’ll blog in the afternoon so I can celebrate in the evening without having to worry about cutting the festivities short. But it already feels like a great day, and in this moment, I’m grateful for all the days that have come before. I’ve waited my entire life to turn thirty-seven (it’s just a number), and a lot of good people had to get together in order for this new world to come. For surely each of us is an entire world, and surely all of creation celebrates when one of us is born, just as it grieves when one of us dies and is poured down a drain. Surely we are all connected in a great mystery and made of the same strong stuff, stuff you can’t touch but feels like the beginning of fall or dancing under the moon.
[I know it’s shocking, but I didn’t take a selfie today, so–all things considered–the above photo was the closest thing I could find that seemed appropriate. It was taken at a Great Gatsby fundraiser I co-hosted on my 33rd birthday, four years ago. ]
Quotes from CoCo (Marcus)
"A friend’s laughter takes us backward and carries us forward simultaneously."