It’s a very big birthday for me today and a very strange one at that. In the past, for every decade that rolled by, I would promise myself I was going to make it a big celebration. These promises never reached fruition for one reason or another, usually because I didn’t have the money for whatever big plans I had cooked up.
I, like many of you, thought 2020 was going to be my year. Everything was in place. My husband and I had planned to fly to Zürich out of Miami, spend a few days, and then take the train to Vienna. Hotel points had been saved, money had been set aside, all was in order. My plan for my actual birthday day was to see the Lipizzaner stallions perform at the Spanish Riding School in Vienna and then find some fabulous place for us to dine that would certainly include some decadent Austrian pastry.
And then, the pandemic.
Please don’t think I’m trying to compare my minor problems to greater, more tragic issues many of you are experiencing like losing a loved one or being ill yourself. I’m not, but I, like all of you, have been forced to regroup in many ways unrelated to my birthday. I’m not going to use the words, “new normal” because I feel that concept is overwhelming considering everything we’re dealing with. It’s too big, too much. I’ll simply refer to it as change.
In the face of that change, I’m choosing to focus on my good fortune rather than the bad because in the final analysis, as my dad is fond of saying, while I didn’t make it to Vienna this year or really anywhere, I have my family and that is my great fortune. My daughter may be far away in Virginia and my brother and his family in California, but everyone’s safe, everyone is healthy. I’m baking myself a strawberry birthday cake, and my parents, my husband, and I will be social distance dining tonight with some takeout. The day after my birthday, I’ll eat leftover birthday cake for breakfast as a tribute to a memory and an especially dear friend. You know who you are.
Perhaps some of you remember playing musical chairs as a child. Music would play and all participants would circle the chairs until the music stopped at which point, everyone would scramble to be seated. There was always one less chair than children, so one child was left standing and therefor “out” of the game.
This is what life feels like to me now. How about you? We spend our days dashing around, trying to find a chair, a place to be because the music has stopped, and no one wants to be left without a place to land.