the day after my birthday

morningToday is the day after my birthday. It’s a strange day, in which past and present keep overlapping. I woke up at 4am, hungry, and couldn’t go back to sleep. The boy slept until 7, a rarity. Waking up at 4am when my son is not awake is doubly annoying — I did not want to be awake AND I had a brilliant 3-hour opportunity for further sleep. I tried going back to sleep but instead tossed and turned and thought. I got up and ate a bagel and read about Obama winning the Nobel Peace Prize. I couldn’t process the information, and that, too, felt strange.

I tried to write, in those hours before my son awakened, and in doing so remembered a post from a while back on red Ravine in which a single mom said she got up before dawn, before her kids disturbed the silence, to write. I wrote that I didn’t think I could do that. But then I couldn’t, before my son was born, imagine waking up before dawn for months and months on end. Dawn is no longer an important marker of whether I should be awake or not. And so, before dawn, I re-wrote a C is for … piece for Alphabet: A History. There is something I don’t like about the piece I’ve written, but I can’t quite figure out what it is. And so I tweaked and edited until the sun began to light the sky and the boy woke up.

As I wrote I stopped to look at a bouquet of flowers my husband brought home for me yesterday. I could smell them — a couple of the blooms smell, improbably, just like chocolate — and I thought of another birthday and other flowers.

I suppose it’s the nature of birthdays that cause me to think about the past, but I got to thinking that things seem to happen on or around my birthday. Some of these things are significant: For example, Barack Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize this morning. This of course has absolutely nothing to do with my birthday, but here I am writing about it anyway. I have a habit (tradition?) of writing journal-ish sorts of things on or around my birthday that encompass current events. For example, eight years ago, I wrote:

“The day before my 29th birthday, they began a war.”

I’m sure I could write something about these anniversaries of war and peace falling so close to each other. But I don’t want to link them. I wish they were not linked. I watched Obama’s Nobel acceptance speech* on TV and felt the weight he now carries. I have a lot of respect for him, a young president on whom the whole world hangs its hopes and for whom the past has leaked into the present and threatens to stain our futures.

*full text of Obama’s speech here

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