Being born is an accident of chance.
Imagine being told that You decided to be born. In the pre existence. You were given the opportunity to be born into a human body. You were one of the ones who jumped for joy at the prospect of living in fallible human skin and bone. You chose this. Be grateful. You knew what you were getting into.
The day I was born was exciting, so I am told. Being the first born is pretty great. You are the one born before all the others. You parents are not distracted by the needs of other offspring. I am one who was told they were wanted from the very start.
When I turn seventeen, my best friend throws me a party in her parents garage. There is alcohol but I’m mormon so dont partake. It is my first party with friends and no annoying little sisters to keep away from my friends. I am drunk on freedom and the beauty of my best friend. A boy tries to trick me into drinking lemonade with vodka in it. My best friend intervenes and gets very pissed off at the boy. I simply watch her give him a piece of her beautiful mind. Its at that party that she tells me I might might like a band called The Sashing Pumkins. By the time I turn eighteen she will not be my best friend. She wont even be a friend. The heart ache is all consuming.
On the birthday I turn eighteen it is the day I take my final English exam. The plan is to have a small party with my family that evening. Instead i end up in the front seat of my parents Nissen while my mother lays in the back quiet and falling asleep. My father drives her to St Vincents hospital in Melbourne. The day I turned eighteen almost became the birthday my mother died. If she had fallen asleep in the car, she would not have woken up. She receives life saving brain surgery on the day I turn eighteen.
When I turn twenty – one I am no longer a good mormon girl. I drink. The second time a boy spikes my non alcoholic beverage, there is no best friend to intervene. Just a large group of accomplices. I have two parties. A family one and one at university. The family one involves a giant ice cream sundae served in a brand new and unused pig trough. My cake is in the shape of a flying saucer, a cheeky nod to mu childhood fear of extra terrestrials. My fathers speech includes words about not being overly thrilled with some of my decisions. There is uncondional love there still. The uni one is pretty rubbish. I was only doing what I thought you were expected to do when you turned twenty-one. I did enjoy being free to get drunk with my friends though. There was no booze at my family party.
when I turn twenty 4, it is the first birthday spent with a boyfriend. I get a music festival ticket. Having a boyfriend seems cool after five months. I think. The friendship group has changed. There are no friends from high school or uni. It seems that I am quite good at reinventing myself. And burning bridges. My share house where the party is held, is falling apart. It is near Brunswick St. Im starting to know about how my body works and what feels good. My boyfriend does not want to spend the night and this makes me sad. There is a fight and he ends up staying. It makes no sense to me at the time.
When I turn twenty-five I still have the same boyfriend. I get a pile of gifts including books, voucher for my favorite clothing store: Vicious Venus. I am young, in love and spend my birthday drinking and dancing at The Rochester Castle. Two days later I will be hit by a depressive episode so bad and for so long that I finally seek mental health help.
Twenty six. I am single again and live in a house with a guy who smokes inside and stays up drinking scotch until they pass out on the couch every night. I throw a party and make all sorts of treats for my guests. A throw back to childhood parties. I make fairy bread and rum balls and chocolate crackles. It is a good party but in all the photos, I look sick and skinny and sad. My eyes do not lie. You can see in my face that I know the truth: I have been replaced so easily. This is the birthday I decide I can sleep with other people and I do.
Twenty seven is spent in London. I get a package containing three illustrations from a beautiful boy in Melbourne. They arrive on my birthday and I take it as a sign that we are meant to be together. He misses me as much I miss him, I am sure of it. I put the three framed drawings in the centre of the mantle piece in the room I share with a friend. She agrees this is all pointing to true love. We get drunk in our room and I let a Spanish girl cut my fringe for me so I can kiss British boys while out in Camden. She nips my right eyelid a bit accidentally. Its not until Im on the train with my friend that she notices my eye lid is bleeding a little bit. I wipe the blood away while laughing and take a swig from the bottle of vodka. I was wrong. Drawings were a red herring. I end up destroying them when I get home to Melbourne. Im not one who takes being played with with poise or grace.
I share my birthday with Sylvia Plath and John Cleese. Which could explain how I walk the line between humour and poetic emotional extremes. Im so self involved I cannot remember any of my siblings being born. Should I have two birthdays since I died for four minutes that day in july? Or is that just a death day that didnt stick technically speaking? My most recent birthday was rife with existential dread and anxiety. When I voiced this to a friend they sent me the following message.
Its great that your in the world for another year. You’re such a ray of sunshine, cheeky mischievousness and I love your contempt for men.
This cheered me. As did having a small dinner party with friends and being lucky enough to have a double birthday cake birthday. Cake is great and being alive is greatly varied.