Tuesday, January 14, 2003

If You're Only As Young As You Feel...

Happy Birthday To Me

No work today. It was my thirtieth birthday, and I needed a nap.

I slept in instead, and accompanied Darcie and Willow to the baby's six-month doctor's appointment for weigh-in and shots. The baby loved wrapping herself in the paper they put down on the exam table; her reaction to the shots was predictably horrifying. Lunch afterwards at Bogies in downtown Greenfield; Bogie is a short skinny bearded man whose sandwiches are basic and only two-star at best, but how can I stay away from a place where one can get breakfast all day, homemade corned beef hash and a vanilla latte with double shots and whipped cream?

We returned to find the power out and the emergency generator burning propane outside our bedroom window like an annoying neighbor's riding lawnmower. In addition to running emergency lights and smoke detectors in the dorm during power outages, the generator is set to turn on once a week; for most of our time here it woke us up at 10 a.m. every Sunday morning; this year we got smart and asked the school's electricians to reset the timer for a more civilized hour, and since then it runs on Thursdays at 1 when we are meeting with our advisees.

I did manage to nap restlessly for an hour or so on the futon in the baby's room, dreaming of electric bee swarms and waking half-aware of the grinding of the emergency generator in the backyard. At this rate, I'll finally be able to catch up on sleep once Willow goes to college.

Woke up at four thirty to the alarm and, after an appropriate period of grogginess, stepped outside into the growing chill darkness to climb the hill to the dining hall to chair this week's Professional Development Committee meeting. The Dean of Faculty surprised me with an excellent cake (Vanilla layers, raspberry jam filling) from the school bakery, a plastic lei (morbid black), balloons (30 Years: Over The Hill) and a committee-signed card; we ate cake and discussed how to prefect the sabbatical process for next year in the context of the economic woes currently sweeping the prep school community. Home afterwards to another cake, this time a rather dry but good-with-milk chocolate with buttercream frosting from the Greenfield Coop, with cards and a promise of an impending gift-in-the-mail from Darcie's parents, String Cheese Incident's live double-CD Carnival 99 from Virginia, and messages on the answering machine wishing me happy happy happy from Josh and Clay, who couldn't make it.

When she called from the car on the way back from the airport this evening to sing the Happy Birthday song -- the 'rents were on their way back from a trip to Florida to see Lil and dad's parents -- my mother reminded me that my father has always taken his birthday off, too. She didn't mention it, might not remember it, but he used to take my birthday off from work back when I was in elementary school, and, later, my bother and sister's birthdays off, too. Dad would take us anywhere we wanted for our special day; having no sense of driving time or distance at that young age, we usually spent weeks overestimating what was humanly possible and preparing an impossibility, a week's itinerary worth of places and pleasure, but I have fond memories of racing through the suburbs of Boston, full of dim sum, on our way to the Boston Children's Museum or the local arcade. Just Dad and me. Gotta remember to put that on the list of things to do with Willow.

How cool that it's up to me to imitate and thus establish the pattern; how empowering to think that when the baby gets old enough we, too, can skip work/school and spend the day doing whatever she wants. Doing with Willow what my father did with me will let us celebrate our childhoods together. Giving the gift of time to oneself and one's offspring is now officially a family tradition, courtesy of dad and me.

Ah, there it is -- now I don't feel so old anymore. Thanks, Dad. Happy birthday to me...

posted by boyhowdy | 11:13 PM |

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