I don’t like birthdays, specifically my birthdays. Because it upset you kids, I pretended to like birthdays, but now that almost everyone is an adult, it’s probably safe to get back to the minimal observance that I prefer. My aversion could be traced back to some spectacularly horrible birthday party, but I’d rather talk about last night instead.
Yerdad brought me my favorite rib dinner and bought me exactly the fancy handbag I picked out–and he went overboard. Yersis made an amazing cake built on a couple of different mousses with raspberries and ganache, and everyone gave me their share of raspberries because I’m the only one who likes them. It was festive in a way that made me feel loved and eccentric at the same time.
I wore my brother’s band shirt all day and nothing makes me feel younger than that. Because it was working and I was feeling very young, I was also very restless after cake. The part of the clan that was home was settling into various media, even before sundown. I wasn’t ready to give up on the day, so I decided to light a fire on the patio.
The fire pit was overloaded, but it would not burn. It took me three tries to light the wet debris that was in there. My fuel was all the sticks I could gather from the one weekend when I did that, some soggy cardboard and ancient flame-resistant firewood at the base. When I finally got it to light, I crowed.
I gathered up all the abandoned brush from the herb garden and set all the thyme on fire. It was glorious. No thyme like the present, I joked to me.
The fire started to wane, so I took the last big stick and prodded the wood from the corners into the middle, and the wet stuff really started to smoke.
As I shifted the last piece of wood, I uncovered a slug. Squealing with distress–me I mean, not the slug–I frantically tried to rescue the slug from the fire. She didn’t want to help me help her, and I choked as all the smoke funneled directly into my face. How was she still alive and wriggling? I worked for an agonizing minute to free her from the conflagration. Once she attached to the stick I rolled her into the patch of chives.
Would she die anyway from smoke inhalation? Do slugs have lungs? I didn’t want to know any more about slugs, and I still don’t.
I settled in to enjoy the last of the fire, noting that it was an exceptionally boring sunset. If you were lost, you couldn’t know west from it. The sky was going from gray to darker gray. At least it was quiet enough that I could hear the birds bickering.
The quiet didn’t last, however. Our new neighbors, I had hoped, would be less noisy than the previous family. There is a kind of noise swale that funnels the shrieks of small children from that house to my yard. Many Sunday beer naps have been destroyed by it.
What I heard was not shrieks, but a rhythmic bonging. Did the children find and disassemble an old pipe organ? Was it a huge wooden spoon smacking a wheelbarrow? For some reason my thoughts ran to nunchacku, but that’s silly because they are silent. Are they silent? I don’t care. Children shouldn’t be playing with them in any case.
Each time the noise stopped, I could clearly hear a tiny child taunting, “I don’t think that’s loud.” I considered shouting back, “I don’t think that’s allowed,” but just as I decided they couldn’t possibly continue, they stopped. It was becoming too dark for their bonky game.
Bats started to chase each other overhead, and I kept smelling the chives. They are very healthy and numerous and putting them next to the patio was just one of many poor gardening decisions.
Do bats eat fireflies? I realized that I didn’t want to see that. And then I realized something else. Even though I was sitting there, reeking of thyme smoke and crotchety neighbor thoughts, it wasn’t even my birthday yet. I forgot.
I can do it all again today if I want to. Or not.