Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Special birthdays

Do you have one of those friends who celebrates every "big" birthday in a major way? Like 18, 21, 30, 40, etc.? Or maybe you're one of those people yourself? Personally, I was never a fan of milestone birthday celebrations because it seemed like so much pressure: pressure on the people giving it to make it awesome, pressure on the people attending to come up with extra special gifts or cards, pressure on me to enjoy it by drinking/eating/laughing longer and harder than at every other birthday.

Not to mention the pressure of what comes after...being the new age. "Now that you're 18..." "Now that you're 21..." and so on. Has something so intrinsic changed inside me now that another year has passed? Has a switch inside me flipped on - or off - so I should be acting differently?

Recently a friend turned 30 and her husband asked Mo and me to come up with some words of what it was like when we turned 30, or what we wished when we turned 30, etc. Something poignant or maybe even practical. Like, "When I turned thirty I started using moisturizer on my elbows" or something like that.

I wrote her a note about how I became funny when I turned 30. And I don't mean I was all of a sudden a comedian of Ellen proportions, telling jokes and doing stand-up. I was, for much of my life, a very serious person. And I was known for being a serious person. It wasn't that I didn't have a sense of humor or I didn't like comedy but my persona, the outward expression of my being, was a serious one. I read smart literature, watched foreign movies, spent my time in the pursuit of scholarly-type things. And that's pretty much what my parents and everyone expected me to be. I wrote serious things, too, that must go without saying.

But when I turned 30, I suddenly realized I had a funny side. I could write amusing things, wry dialogue, hilarious situations, and I could be funny in my personal life, too. Best of all, I discovered I could make other people laugh, which was something I had never even attempted before. And gosh, I loved that. How awesome was it to say something aloud that could make another person giggle? It was a huge change for me!

The friend to whom I wrote this note is a very sunny and cheerful person who happens to laugh a lot and make clever jokes so turning 30 for her will not mean the exact same thing. I suppose what I meant by my note was that, when I turned 30, I discovered something new about myself, something I never knew was inside me, and I hoped that the same might happen to her.