My birthday is February 15 and for the last twelve years, my birthday has been a lovely extension of the day before. That said, let me tell you why a February 15th birthday can be worse than one on or around any other holiday.
I like to think that I am the master of my own happiness but there’s one day each year that still can knock me down a peg and the success of the day can be in someone else’s hands. Before Babe, when I was in a relationship, Valentine’s Day seldom lived up to my Clark W Griswald-like anticipation. When I wasn’t in one it was isolating. No giddy smile, no roses on my desk, no teddy bear holding chocolates, I felt like the void was a marker of single-hood, like it or not.
There is double-whammy potential for anyone who has a birthday in close proximity to a holiday but the day after Valentine’s Day, when you’re lonely, is hard enough to stomach without the additional emotions that go with a birthday. All those So what did he do for you?’s to overhear.
In my early dating years I discovered to what extent Valentines Day could dictate the happiness of my birthday. When I was a freshman in high school, I was in my first “serious” relationship with a lovely boy, Jason. He had long eyelashes that concealed disarming blue eyes when he smiled. He listened to grunge music before we all called it grunge. I loved the smell of his hair.
Jason dumped me for Tracy, a chipper 18-year old rich girl who I couldn’t stand, and he did it after school on Valentine’s Day. We were supposed to have a sickeningly sweet evening of balloons and love notes folded with high school girl precision and letting him get to second base. Jilted on Valentines Day, the day before my 14th birthday. I was a walking pop song.
The next morning I hunched over my books, halfway hidden in my locker, when I heard them. A gaggle of my girlfriends sought me out to get the sordid details of our first not-G-rated-Valentines Day and share theirs oh! and happy birthday!
At the mention of Jason’s name, my books fell to the floor as I dug my knuckles into my eye sockets. I don’t remember how I said that he dumped me but I remember Katie Frye’s expression when it registered that she’d stepped into a puddle of Awkward and as a friend, she’d be sloshing in it till we’d get on our separate buses to go home. Every Happy Birthday was met with trembling lips, a rehashing of the breakup and Katie’s gentle strokes on the shoulder as she passed me in the hall between classes.
Three months later I bumped into Jason. Tracy had just broken up with him and he assured me that it was a much harsher dumping than what I’d received. My curiosity was always piqued by that. I wish I’d had the guts to say, How so? Gimme details, dammit!
So it can be rough for the February 15th crew. Learn from Katie Frye and step lightly.
Today, having Belle and TLD, we’ve reverted to the Valentine’s day/birthday blur from my childhood. Cards in shoe boxes, chocolates in foil wrappers and heart-shaped pancakes dominate the 14th. By birthday dinner we’re so full of sweets that instead of birthday cake we have my next-favorite dessert: cheese.
I know it won’t be so very long till my little girl comes home with a broken heart. I’m an optimist but doesn’t it happen to everybody? Still, I’m resting a little easy knowing that at least her birthday is in November, nowhere near mine.