There’s Cake In My Future & other Birthday Dreams

The buzz starts early, almost before you’re fully awake. That sense of excitement, anticipation; the knowledge that the day dawning is your day, yours alone, and it’s going to be grand.

Birthdays. The most wonderful day of the year for children, so excited to be that one year older. Proud of it, flashing the adjusted number of fingers, eager to announce to the world that, “I’m free!!” as if turning three on that particular day is the greatest feat to possibly be achieved.

Because it is. It means you’re closer to being BIG (remember when getting big was all the rage??). And it comes with all the hoopla of celebration: cake, candles, gifts, parties, everyone paying attention to you in a way they don’t on any other day of the year. We love our birthdays; they’re ours and ours alone and nothing can ever change that.

Except having LOTS of them. Yeah. Lotsa birthdays. Becomes a tad less “whoo hoo” after a while, this adjusted number thing, a little less exuberant. Oh sure, “better than the alternative” remains the go-to assuagement but, really, how joyful is that reminder? Face it, you’re getting older. You’re talking about gluten, befuddled by your phone, complaining every time Facebook changes its template. You’re….older.

And those decade-change birthdays, my God, let’s talk about those!! Those “big ones.” When you’re younger, those are joyfully plate-shifting birthdays. My son is turning 20 this next birthday (seriously??) and we all remember the stellar coolness of, finally, being out of our teens…very exciting. For me, turning 30 was still cool. It came with a sense that I was actually a grown-up. I took to blithely announcing it to everyone at the bar where I was working at the time, ready to wrap the mantle of adulthood firmly round my very padded shoulders. But in a surely-soon-to-be-famous band at the time, I was sternly admonished by my boyfriend/band leader to keep that damn number to myself; reminded that being 30 and still on the ramp-up to a record deal was not even remotely cool. I quieted down but remained secretly thrilled by the whole thing.

Until 40. Turning 40 was a turning point, literally. You know how you go in on those commercial auditions and you have to fill out that form? The one that – though by law can’t ask your age – does require that you put yourself in an age bracket:  -40 or +40. What could be more obvious? You had to “out” yourself, admit you were either worthy of consideration for the young mother hawking soap or age yourself out of the running altogether. I always marked -40 because I did, at the time, appear to be so, but that distinction made clear the Rubicon one was crossing at that particular decade in the acting world and, at the time, it made me shudder.

But what candle could that hold to the Bizarro World of the Fifth Decade. Now there’s a club I still, to this day, cannot fathom being a member of. Seriously, I mean it, how did that happen? Fifties is when you start wearing dance pants from Lane Bryant and those fun, flowery tops found in the Target “women’s” section (odd how larger women get the “women’s” label…what are the rest of the gender, “Lesser Women”??). You let your gray grow out and get that bubble cut favored by matrons the world over. You start saying “gal” and referring to people as “being a hoot.” You spend time discussing bowel movements and what meds you’re on, you stop going to rock clubs with the excuse that “we’re geezers, probably in bed watching Downton Abbey by the time you’re on stage” (this would be 9:00!), and you really do start yelling at kids to stay off your lawn. Nope, not me, nuh uh, ain’t gonna do it.

So I didn’t. I found my own way to be a member of the decade and it’s been good. My energy hasn’t flagged, I’m vigilant about staying healthy (remember those Funk Brothers-accompanied power walks?), I refuse to join AARP (at least until I actually retire from something), and rock & roll remains decidedly doable. Oh sure, those cute round cheeks seen in early childhood photos are making their inexorable slide toward gravity and one has to watch the snack foods more closely, but I’m still…me.

We’ll see how well I do at the next decade change. Let’s not rush it.

For now, I’m celebrating. Celebrating the acknowledgement of birth, life lived, the continuing quest to embrace change and remain fiercely dedicated to who I am and what gives my life purpose. I’m having lunch with the woman who brought me into this world, dinner with the man with whom I’m sharing the journey, sweet bookends that have particular meaning. That soon-to-be 20-year old boy (man?) called with warm words, cards have arrived, and the thoughtful wishes of Facebook friends who, for that moment in which they sent a birthday wish to my page, were thinking of me. That’s a lot of positive well-wishing coming my way and I’m grateful (never believe that Facebook is a waste of time).

What they don’t really tell you about getting older…at least for me? That there’s an ease to it, the clichéd but so truthful accrual of wisdom. A certain letting go of that youthful panic about where you’re going and the rush to get there so you can then BE that for the second you get before you have to move on even faster and higher and harder to get to the next level expected and then — phew…makes me tired just thinking about it! I’m grateful I’ve now gotten SO old, so far past those arbitrary age goals, that the inevitable surrender to what is rather than what was supposed to be gives me a tremendous sense of freedom. The knowledge that it isn’t all carved in stone and sometimes what you expected wasn’t necessarily the best choice anyway. Mostly you find that you still have choices. That’s the unexpected revelation…to know your life still has some sparkling, blank pages you get to fill in any way you choose. It’s different at this age, less attended to by the outside world, perhaps, but it’s still the adventure you imagined at 20 when your whole life was ahead.

Because your whole life still is ahead. It’s all yours and it still requires your hopes, dreams, optimism, confidence and commitment. And damn if I’m not going to keep at it with the same verve that’s accompanied me throughout this journey.

So don’t count on any floral muumuus. I ain’t gonna get a bubble cut, I’ll still wear black jeans even when I’m walking with my granddaughter, and regardless of where my cheeks ultimately land, know I’ll be smiling. Because I’m still kicking – still capable of kicking – and there’s cake in my future. What could be better than that?  It’s my day, mine alone, and it’s going to be grand!

Thank you all for the wonderful, continuing, and very appreciated birthday wishes!

LDW w glasses


Visit www.lorrainedevonwilke.com for details and links to LDW’s books, music, photography, and articles.

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14 thoughts on “There’s Cake In My Future & other Birthday Dreams

  1. Happy Birthday Lorraine!

    I want to thank you for pointing out that I AM one of these people NOW – “You let your gray grow out and get that bubble cut favored by matrons the world over. You start saying “gal” and referring to people as “being a hoot.” You spend time discussing bowel movements and what meds you’re on, you stop going to rock clubs with the excuse that “we’re geezers, probably in bed watching Downton Abbey by the time you’re on stage” (this would be 9:00!), and you really do start yelling at kids to stay off your lawn.”

    And I’m not even a Matron, nor am I in my fifties yet (although I’m getting real close to fifty…I can see it sitting over in the corner waiting ever so patiently for me)!

    The one thing that I find great about getting older is realizing how many people I’ve touched. (Take that however you wanna. hehe) And even though I’ve corresponded with you for only a short while, you’ve touched this here Grumpy Dude with your thoughtfulness, dedication, insight and wisdom. Enjoy your day!

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    1. LDW

      Now, David, if the bubble cut shoe fits, wear it. I can’t be held responsible for your choice of hair style! And if you really are one of those people now, at least you’ve got a great sense of humor about it and that pretty much undercuts the negative! I always figure if you can poke fun at what you’re being, you’re allowed great leeway…so enjoy your leeway! 🙂

      As for the people you’ve touched (and come on, I only took that the good way…though what “good way” means is up for interpretation!:), I concur. Nothing better than meeting new people like you and finding a connection, even through the ubiquitous Net. More than ever, I’ve discovered just how much friendship, meaning and shared perspective one can have with people they only know through their words. I have new respect for the penpal industry!

      Thanks, David…glad you’re in my circle. LDW

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    1. LDW

      Thank you, my dear friend. That photo is a good memory, isn’t it? We will stay young because life is more fun that way. Thanks for your birthday wishes….love you!

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  2. Cris

    Well for me, many birthdays were shared with my sis who was born one year + 3 days later…still there were a few special birthdays that I claimed for me and me only. We surely don’t feel the decades as deeply as we once dreaded them, do we? I have a few gravity issues, several areas of change of growth yet to come – I intend to have people inspect my rings after death to study how I lived so long…and hopefully so well. It’s been such a joy to reconnect after all the years between youth and ‘youthiness.’ love to you, ‘old’ friend. xxoo

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    1. LDW

      “the years between youth and youthiness”….LOVE it!! A perfect Steve Colbertian line and so true. I don’t think it’s possible for us older folk to be quite as buzzed and bubbly about birthdays as we are in our true youth, but still…it’s a day we get. To think about ourself for a second and just acknowledge a few things. I’m with you on the rings thing…I hope I have plenty of rings at the end of the day and lots of inquiring minds to study. Feel like there’s still so much more to do and many things left to accomplish. So let’s just keep going, my friend. Glad you’re connected to my world, too…much love, L.

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  3. steve

    So, all my life I have tried to refrain from gushing over greatness. I am as cool as a cucumber in the presence of talent, royalty, and fame.

    Yet, here I am, gushing, blushing, red as a new born babe, pleased as punch to have come to know you, to be here now, wishing you the most happy of birthdays.

    We love those who loved us first and you have loved me.

    My dear friend, I am wishing you the bestest of all birthdays. I absolutely adore this piece.

    Your talents amaze and delight me…

    Best,

    Steve

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    1. LDW

      Yes, my Stve, I have loved you and love you still. Will always love you. Because you’re good and you’re my dear friend. THANK YOU for this very sweet, sweet comment. Birthdays are such a bittersweet, but very sweet, day…reminders not only of what has passed and what may be less time ahead, but also a day to take stock, make note, of all who love you and care enough to let you know. I know. I feel very paid attention to today, very loved. And I am truly grateful, in all the ways a wild old/young chick can be! 🙂 Grateful for you, my friend. With much love, LDW

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  4. Oh, Laney. I’m always late to the party, but I do usually, eventually show up.
    I just happened to see that you wrote this. I always wax on about how much I love your writing. It’s getting to be like the boy who cried wolf. With me it’s the girl/woman who can’t stop singing your praises. Okay, so here goes… Wanna know one of the things I love about you? The fact that you just don’t let anything be dull. You are never just floatin down the river…you are always always moving your arms. You refuse to accept the unacceptable while you gracefully find ways to embrace that which you have no choice accepting. But you always do it with such genuine thoughtfulness and purpose. Okay, that’s enough for now. That’s my birthday gift to you….my continued marvel and appreciation of my remarkable friend.

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    1. LDW

      Pat: “You’re always moving your arms”…that is so perfect! And I take it as a great compliment. Because, if nothing else, that’s me: moving my arms to make my way across, down, over, under or even against the damn river of life! You’re comment is such a beautiful statement about our friendship and the support we share with each other. Thank you for taking the time to leave it here, under this particular article about the “miracle” birthdays. I love having you in my corner…and I’ll keep flapping as long as you do! xxoo LDW

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  5. I am VERY late to the party. But, can I still come in? I’m bringing huge cymbals and a brass band. I love what you said about what isn’t said…that there is a certain relaxation about getting older, a peacefulness about letting go of the urgency.

    Just had dinner with a vibrant 91 year old woman tonight. Here’s to what’s ahead, Lorraine! I predict lots of adventure for you!

    XOXXO

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    1. LDW

      You can be late to any party of mine, Jennifer, just so long as you get there! 🙂 Thank you for your kind words (adventure sounds good to me!) and here’s hoping we all get to celebrate 91 and more! xxoo LDW

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