When my mother invited my nine closest elementary school classmates to our home for my eight-birthday party, she had my best interest in mind. I was sitting at the dining room table in a frilly forest green dress with tiny golden bows and embellishments. My hair was combed into six braids with matching gold berets. On my feet were my shiny, black patent leather shoes. With the crown I wore on my head, I looked and felt like a princess. The birthday cake sat on the table illuminated with eight candles; my friends and I were circled around. “One, two, three,” my friends began to sing “Happy Birthday to you…” Before the song was over, I ran upstairs and hid in my closet with the presents. My birthday ended with a beating instead of a bang.
It’s hard to believe that took place 2o years ago to the date. I may be 28-years-old now but I’ll still shy away from the happy birthday embarrassment. My dear friend Ira wanted to throw a birthday party for me on Saturday, but I refused. I turned down the presidential suite at the historic Alex Johnson hotel, the drinks, the birthday cake and the embarrassment that would stem from people singing to me again; the memories from 20 years ago would haunt me.
Instead, I am celebrating another year of life in alone. I took the day off from work to enjoy a facial, manicure, pedicure, some peace, some quiet and the well wishes –which are flowing in by phone and social media. Most importantly, I’m giving thanks to my mother; after all, she did all the hard work 28 years ago in Harlem Hospital, New York. I just simply appeared. My mother made sure to remind me that her back and chest still hurt 28-years later. And as the years roll on, I’m not sure they’ll ever stop hurting, nor will she ever stop reminding me.
So if a cake so happens to find itself in front of me surrounded by a group of friends, I wont shy away this time. That’s because I’m thankful for another year of wisdom, prosperity, love, family and friends. It’s a Happy Birthday indeed.