You know summer has begun when you are constantly checking your email and calendar to make sure you’re not missing out on some live music that evening. Every town has its own series of live music. If you are willing to drive, you can hear it six evenings a week for free, from June to August.
And just when you think you get a night off, you remember the art and wine festival has live bands all day, even if it is 98 degrees outside. You find a window of time to run down to Monterey only to realize that you booked it during the First Wednesday event in a neighboring town, and you will also miss your ski club’s first summer barbecue.
Then, on your upcoming Thursday birthday, the only live music that night is some random island band (reggae? Jimmy Buffet songs?). One friend has planned to be in Tahoe that week. Another friend is trying to sell and move. The bulk of your friends are paired off and busy. Your sis’s status is unknown for that week at the rehab place. You can’t make plans. You have to stay loosy goosey.
FOMO. Fear of missing out.
YOLO. You only live once.
YOYO. You’re on your own.
How many times does a person turn sixty-three? Why do birthdays matter so much? They aren’t that uncommon. They happen every year. Your friend is turning 63. Her party is tonight. Her friend is throwing her a barbecue.
Birthdays and their memories get burned into your brain. You can remember the best ones and the worst ones. You can gauge how your life is going each year on your big day. Are you with someone? Married? Divorced? Dating again?
Are you a blonde now? Brunette again? Naturally gray? Are you heavier than last year? Lighter? Happier? Sadder? Did you move? Did you give up smoking? Is the Chardonnay budget getting bigger?
Do you want to go on a hike on your birthday? Go dancing? Out to eat? Will the waiters have to gather round and sing to you? Will you get a scoop of ice cream with a candle in it?
Will anyone bake you a cake? Why is that so important? Could you go buy one for yourself if no one does?
Why are summer birthdays so hard? Is it because the structure of the rest of the year is gone? Because your friends are traveling? Because people forget about you?
Are you good to your girlfriends or guy friends? Do you remember their birthdays? Do you organize events in their honor?
Can you count on one hand your childhood parties? 5? 10? 16? 21? Does/did your mother judge you when you give/gave each of your children a yearly party? Is that her way of rationalizing only giving you four? Was it because you had so many siblings? Or because money was tight in your household growing up?
You watched the movie This is Forty yesterday when it was so stinking hot. Paul Rudd gets knocked off his bike and breaks his ribs on his birthday. Yours has got to be better than that. Plus you don’t bicycle anymore because it’s not weight bearing.
Why are you writing about this anyway? Can’t you just relax and see what happens that day? I know what you are afraid of, that nothing will happen, that no one will remember, that you will wallow in self pity, and that’s the last thing that you want.
You’d better check the calendar one more time. Island music might be okay. If you bring cupcakes, someone is bound to sing to you, right?

Couldda Wouldda Didda

I went to the island music with a friend. I didn’t pass out cupcakes, but it was all good.

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