Today is my birthday. I know, super-exciting, right? This morning, I bounced out of bed and ran right to my computer, where I read my birthday horoscope. Then, I didn't go to the gym. And now, I'm indulging in a waffle for breakfast instead of my usual boiled egg. Whoopee! But still I'm wondering: Where is my pony?
When I was a kid, I really did always ask for a pony for my birthday. And for several years there, I thought I might actually get one. It could eat the grass in our suburban backyard. Live in the garage. I'd spend my weekends galloping through the neighborhood, ride it every morning to school.
Back then, birthdays were full of such magical possibilities. On my birthday, I fairly vibrated with my own specialness, and expected all the lights to turn green. There was sometimes a party, and always a cake, and a dinner Mom cooked to my individual order. And I don't remember ever being disappointed by my presents, even if a pony wasn't among them.
By college and into young adulthood, birthdays changed: fewer presents, more celebration. My friends and I made big deals of each other's birthdays, with long nights out at the bar and restaurant events involving too many people squeezed into a booth around a single pizza. And then came the era of the Big Birthday: 30, 40, with massive parties and elaborate gifts.
Today's birthday marks no major milestone, and I've reached the age where I like to pretend I'm perennially 28 or 37 or 43: one of those good in-between ages when you're fully grown up but still look and feel fantastic. Part of me thinks that if I just ignored the fact that today was my birthday, maybe I would stay the same age forever, which would be just swell.
But part of me also thinks birthdays are important, even if you don't like getting older. I'm the kind of person (the kind who annoys the rest of my family) who likes to step back and take inventory of where I've been and what I've done in the past year, and where I want to go in the next. I try to honor myself for what I've accomplished, and correct the ways I've failed.
And part of me also thinks: Strike up the band! The trouble is, once you reach a certain age, it's unseemly to expect too much of a fuss around your birthday. I'll indulge myself by working on my novel instead of the taxes; by having a massage with the hot stones. My friend Rita will treat me to lunch at the good Italian place instead of the neighborhood dive, and tomorrow night my family will meet in the city for dinner. There may even be a few presents in there.
But once again, damn it, no pony.
Pamela Redmond Satran's most recent book is 1000 Ways To Be A Slightly Better Woman (Stewart, Tabori & Chang). Her web site is www.pamelaredmondsatran.com.