September is one of my favorite months. I love the crispness of the air, the brightness of the sun, the blueness of the sky and the sense of change and possibility that rides on the adventurous breezes. It is back-to-school, new-pencil time. I often return to Tolkien, the progenitor of so many of my childhood daydreams, in September – fondly remembering that Bilbo, Frodo and I are separated in birthday by a scant day. (There was a time in my life where I attempted to figure out whether if, what with time zones and all, I could in any way be considered to be born on September 22nd. There is not, for the record.)
And here we are, on the first welcome day of autumn after a delicious and delightful summer, looking at my birthday. My thirty-fourth birthday.
Is there any birthday less consequential than your 34th? I’m no longer young, but not quite middle aged yet. I feel no biological clock ticking down because I’ve had my children. I still can’t be president. It’s not divisible by any exciting numbers. There are no (known) science fiction or fantasy references that make it significant (like 42). It’s just another birthday.
But this year, I find myself wildly and unreasonably excited by it. Look at that! I’m having a birthday! Isn’t that marvellous?! Maybe we should have cake! Although I still find myself melancholy on reflection of my lost little kitty, and although I have been somewhat tired and worn of late, my birthday is still (unexpectedly) exciting to me.
I reflect on why this might be. I come to the conclusion it’s because, for the first time in many years, there’s something I actually want for my birthday that I do not have and have been waiting to obtain for months. A new guitar. A grownup-size guitar. A guitar that says, “Yes, Brenda is really actually playing the guitar now.” A pretty guitar with a graceful body and mother-of-pearl inlay. (I hesitate to confess how much my heart was set on mother-of-pearl inlay.) A guitar with a darkly beautiful sound and an easy way of laying in my arms. I have sought, daydreamed and wanted, and for my birthday I have obtained my heart’s desire.
There are other things too, of course, that make my birthday delightful. There is the delight of a guilt-free chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and rather fewer than 34 candles. There is the delight of watching my sons learn the joy of giving. The New England Patriots are even obliging by playing an 8 pm game on my birthday (although one ardently hopes that this week’s performance is better than last’s – UGH! Eds note: QUADRUPLE UGH!).
Finally, this day initiates the fall for me – coming as it does so close to the equinox. Bring on the orange and brown palette. Let there be pumpkin stickers. May the fridge hold apple cider and the kitchen be fragrant with boiling apple butter. Let us open the windows during the day and close them during the night. Let me wake to the sound of the furnace turning on to heat the room for morning ablutions. Let there be birthdays and Halloweens and Cthulu games and apple picking and Mocksgiving and Thanksgiving and Advent and Christmas. I am ready.
For lo: I am 34. I am not young. I am not old. I am not even – quite yet – middle aged. I have learned how much there is to love of fall, and stand ready to lay down another layer of memory to build the beautiful patina of age.