In the play Much Ado About Nothing, William Shakespeare wrote, “There was a star danced, and under that I was born.” Today is my birthday. Obviously, I am not one of those people who likes to keep it a secret. I love my birthday. I always have, and I suspect that I always will, despite the fact that the number I’m turning seems alarmingly high, especially since I feel like I’m about sixteen. And the problem is that it keeps going up. How did I get here already?
When I considered writing a birthday post I thought there were several different directions in which I could take it. I could be cheesy and compose one of those holiday-type letters that would detail all the events of the past year… but wait, you’ve already heard about all of those. Oh my goodness, does that mean I’m cheesy? Or I could write about the biggest event of all, but you also know just how that would go: I took quite the tumble back in January and the chain of events that followed completely changed the course of my life. “In the midst of winter, I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.” True words indeed, and how I wish I’d said them, but all the credit goes to Albert Camus. I could get very serious and tell you that this birthday feels different to me, for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that my role in life is changing. My three children are living on their own, have good jobs, and are in solid relationships with wonderful significant others. There’s even a grandchild (you know all about her too) and another one on the way in less than two months. Now when the lens through which I view life snaps into focus, it’s suddenly okay to find myself in the center of it. Such a shift in perspective has made me think a great deal about what it really means to turn another year older.
No matter how many candles are on our birthday cake in any given year, there are aspects of life that will always bring us back to an earlier age. Let’s take friendship as an example. When we meet a person for the first time, and think we recognize a kindred spirit, one of two things happens. Either we turn back into the six-year-old we were on the playground who had no qualms in saying, “I really, really like you. Will you be my friend?” or we find ourselves back in high school looking for a table in the lunchroom, hoping that the potential friend we have eyeballs on does not go all Mean Girls on us and say with remarkable disdain, “You can’t sit with us.” Which is it for you? I am the six-year-old for sure! How about joy? Aren’t there times when we’re still capable of feeling that no holds barred excitement we knew when we were kids? It certainly happens when we get that call about an unexpected snow day, or when we’re at the top of a rollercoaster (if we like them), or most definitely when we win something big at a Designer Bag Bingo event, like a certain black Coach bag. For me, it happened in a huge way when Nora arrived last June. What about sadness? With this particular emotion, we’re not only returned to certain memories from our childhood, but we also find ourselves wanting the very thing that would always take our sadness away. We want our parents. When my mom died, it was the greatest moment of loss I’ve ever known, and my first thought was that I wanted to call her and tell her about it. So what did I do instead? I sat myself down on the floor of her closet, among all her things. It was the only place I could think to go.
That brings us to what is always the million dollar question for me. What about love? We learn it from our parents first, through the safety, security, and comfort they give us as children. We gain our sense of family and belonging from them, and from our siblings, who love us in a way no one else ever will. In middle school, we felt the first stirrings of romantic love. Remember your first crush, and that song in eighth grade that made you think of him or her when you played it over and over again? Mine was “I’m Not In Love” by 10CC. Dear God. We felt full-blown passion by high school for sure, and had probably had our hearts broken once or twice by then. When we experience love as adults, we return through all these stages, from the foundation we knew early on, through those first feelings, and onto the more mature relationships we had as young adults. That’s why when the really big one comes along, it’s impossible to miss. It pulls at the earliest thread and it unravels us from there in the most perfect way. And that’s how we know.
Yes I am turning another year older, but I’m celebrating with such a full heart. I have learned that age truly makes no difference, and that life can transform us back into a six or sixteen-year-old in the blink of an eye. Time really does exist for us as a kind of continuum, and we are a composite of all that we have experienced. As we grow older, we gain perspective, and a deep sense of appreciation for the fact that we’ll be given the opportunity to experience profound emotions again and again. And, if we let them, they will remind us of who we were, they will tell us who we are, and they will show us all that we still have the chance to be.
Today’s cocktail was simple. I chose ingredients that I love and I served them in my favorite glass. I was given a gift of a Honey-Infused Rye Whiskey from Catskill Provisions that was fabulous as a base spirit. I added St. Germain, a Pineapple Turmeric shrub from Element, and then built on either side of those with some lemon juice, a splash of pineapple juice, and two dashes of DRAM Palo Santo bitters. If you’d like the drink to be sweeter, you can add a quarter ounce of simple syrup. The end result was a cocktail that felt like the perfect way for me to toast my birthday and the wonder that is my life. Cheers everyone. Happy Friday!
2 oz Catskill Provisions Rye Whiskey infused with local honey
½ oz St. Germain
1 oz Element Shrub Pineapple Turmeric
½ oz lemon juice
¼ oz unsweetened or fresh pineapple juice
2 dashes DRAM Palo Santo bitters
Place all the ingredients in a shaker tin with ice and shake until cold. Strain into your favorite old-fashioned glass over one large cube. Garnish with lemon wheel. Enjoy!