Identity #7: (Journey of) Melancholy Birthdays

My life, in the days before my birthday. Note, this is dark.

In the days before my birthday…

I joke with my mother that if she hadn’t eaten that extra cookie at dinner, she might not have gone into labor the next day. I don’t remember -obvi’!- what that first birthday was like, but there are a ton of baby pictures with me and Dad. He was real tickled to have a girl.

Every day is a blessing, I’m glad to be alive.

In the days before my birthday…

I remember begin disappointed that I wouldn’t have birthday parties. Growing up, I didn’t have a bunch of friends to invite, it was just me and the family unit. While we didn’t start exchanging gifts until I was in my late teens, I remember wishing that my birthday would be a bit more special and a little less lonely.

I still remember the post birthday melancholy. Not so much a milestone as a reminder of how alone one truly is, in the existential sense.


In the days before my birthday…

“So, when’s your birthday? Are you having a party?”

In high school, I’d quietly sit with my group of friends as they would talk in excitement of their special days. They’d throw parties for the whole grade, all 30+ of us, and the excitement that garnered!

I didn’t attend a birthday party until I was in 11th grade. It took 2 years of being nice to everyone to finally get invited to one. I remember being terrified of running out of things to do, but somehow it flowed, almost magically.

The second party I attended was when I was in 12th grade. It from afternoon till evening on a weekend. That’s where I garroted myself on the clothesline in the backyard, playing hide-and-seek in the dark.

I remember running full tilt… then nothing.

The dark sky, I couldn’t tell if my eyes were open or shut. Wondering if I was dead. The pain indicated I was not.

The relief.

The fear of death without absolution. Of hell.


In the days before my birthday…

I decided that I wouldn’t live to graduate high school. I would stop the clock here and now because there was nothing to live for in this grey and empty world. I looped my yoga pants over the clothing rod in the closet and tied the other leg around my neck. Then I pulled.

What was there in life to live for? In the days approaching this moment, I’d run through all possibilities, but they were all bleak. Pondered all futures and options, but they were all dark. Contemplated many endings, all of them painful. Oxygen deprivation seemed to be best.

As I tightened the material around my windpipe, I suddenly -finally- found something to live for…

Fucking curiosity.

The thought that struck was what if I miss something by ending here? The next movie? A possibility of something that I’ll miss by being dead.

No lie. I’m alive today because of my fucking curiosity and my desire to know everything.

So be nice to nosy kids, curious kids, kids with questions and persistence for answers. Let them be seen and heard. Lest they wind up like me.

Believe me, no one should end up like me.


In the days before my birthday…

I celebrate a week early as a reminder of the time I nearly died. Twice. One on accident, the other on purpose.

Every year, I ask myself -was it worth it to be curious enough to continue living?

So far, the answer is yes.

I’ve seen and experienced so much. Movies I love, actors I enjoy, experiences I’ve embraced. Made friends, lost friends. Walked a solitary path. Walked a path of crisis. Of disdain, of misery. I’ve had ridiculous highs, and deep lows.

But I’ve never gone back to that dark moment, that inky day.

Is it worth it? Absolutely, it’s worth it.

Every year is a new gift. I am reborn since then, my life on loan. And I enjoy every moment.


In the days before my birthday…

I taste the true flavor of despair. Surrounded by all sides by personal failures, I am at the lowest I’ve ever been. I question my greatest asset -or is it my greatest weakness- and vehemently wonder why it has failed me now.

Ironically, I am also surrounded on all sides by numerous bridges. Temptation. Opportunities that many around me have taken to reset the clock to zero and exit the mortal coil. Every few weeks, another announcement of some poor soul who jumped, cut, drowned, hanged, over-dosed, died.

With such temptation lurking at every intersection, with opportunity every few feet, I did not feel the impulse to quit. It was a siren song, to be sure. An old, familiar composition that did not hold me within it’s sway. There was still hope. There was still light.

I hadn’t been abandoned or lost, I knew my way out. And the time was ending, the rule of this dark age was ending. I could count down the days to freedom.

All was not yet lost.

There was still much to live for.


In the days before my birthday…

I pluck up my courage to talk to Mom. I’d held off on this conversation for weeks. Would she still love me? Her bisexual, male child she’d only known as a straight, backslidden daughter?

I didn’t know.

Terror is an icy vise, I bite the bullet I’d ruminated on for days, weeks, months.

The love is beautiful. The disappointment -crushing.

I have so much to live for. I live for love.

I will love again. And this time, next time, sometime, someone will love me too.

Potential is enough.

Curiosity is enough.

I will live on.


In the days before my birthday…

Time has flown. I can’t wait to continue. There is so much I have to do. Goals, dreams, aspirations.

I’m too young to exit. There is so much left undone.

I’m curious of what the future holds.

But for now, I’m dying of anticipation. A new movie is coming, and I want to see it.

I will see it. Tomorrow.

I survive, one day at a time.

That’s all I can do.

I can do that.



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