Today is my birthday. I know this because I am wearing my birthday socks. Yes, I know, this is odd, but I have a vast collection of socks that contains not only cat socks and paw print socks, but pairs containing the likes of moose, bears, lemurs, river otters, Halloween, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and one pair with the face of Edgar Allan Poe with the word, “Nevermore.” My feet are constantly entertained.
But as I sit here and think deep existential birthday thoughts, I am finding it hard to believe that I am the age I have turned today. Fifty five. Double nickels. I have reached the speed limit.
This is not where I imagined I would be when I thought about my adulthood in my childhood. To be sure, there wasn’t much thought at all about this when I was younger. I knew for sure I wanted to write. I knew I had to get out of my small hometown for college. That’s it. I had no idea what I would do with my life other than this overpowering calling to write. But when I was applying for college, there was no category for “I want to be a writer.” So I chose journalism, although it quickly became apparent I had no business even considering a career in journalism because I have the assertiveness of a stack of plywood. I could never get in people’s faces to ask questions. I was way too shy to interview other humans.
I changed my major to English, much to my parents’ horror. What on this pale blue dot circling a giant fiery orb would I do with THAT? I would have to get certified in teaching, of course. But after college I couldn’t get hired as a teacher. It turns out plywood is also a terrible interviewee. I became a diner waitress. Until.
Until I met a man who would sweep me off of my Nursemate waitress shoes and to New Jersey to be with him. I swung back to writing when I got a master’s in English with a writing concentration. I got a job in advertising. But I was miserable, so I left and began working with special education students. I fell in love with these students but I wasn’t writing. I put my words in the bottom drawer of my oven to stay warm until I could swing back to writing. I always swing back to writing.
I sit here today about to go to a job I love yet never imagined would be my career. But before I do, I am shaking another little bit of writing free and putting it out into the world. And by releasing it, part of me is back in that small town cheering me on. Write, she says. Write whatever you want, but write. I didn’t dream all those nights for you to hide your only true calling. Write, my dear, she begs. Run toward writing like bare feet walking in the snow in January run toward socks.
So happy birthday to the me that I am today, right down to my birthday-socked feet.