Saturday, May 8, 2010

Day eight hundred and fifty seven ... Just another day.

In two hours and eighteen minutes, in the Eastern Time Zone, I will be forty years old.

It's just another day.

I love my birthday. I always have. From the first few that I can remember, with all the angel food cake that a toddler can smear on his face, body, arms, legs, and high chair I have always loved this day.

My mother always made it so supremely special for me, her only son; her only child. I was the one she had dreamed of for so many years. From the time she pushed around a little carriage with a doll dressed in a tiny blue jumpsuit, she had always wished for a boy.

My aunt thought I was going to be a girl. She believed it so strongly (and some say she tried to will it so) that she showed up on the morning after my birth with a bouquet of pink flowers for my mom. Was she ever in for a surprise when she showed up at the hospital.

But my mom knew better. And that was just like her.

In two hours and nine minutes, in the Eastern Time Zone, I will be forty years old.

It's just another day.

A story my mom told me, which my aunt confirmed, is that May 10, 1970 was Mother's Day. At the hospital at UCLA, where I was born, the nurses gave out beautiful carnations to all the moms who had babies on that day; I was born on May 9 at 11:20, after 15 hours of labor ... just shy of midnight.

It seems mean, and it's hard to believe, myself, but I was told she didn't get a carnation, anyway.

But she always told me that I was the greatest present she had ever been given so it didn't really matter much to her.

In two hours and one minute, in the Eastern Time Zone, I will be forty years old.

It's just another day.

I was told that for the first few months of my existence my bed wasn't exactly the most luxurious of children's cribs. In fact, if I am to believe what I was told, my first bed was the top drawer of a bedroom bureau--a well appointed drawer with linens and fine blankets, but a drawer, nonetheless. My mom didn't know the first thing about raising a baby and there weren't exactly too many how-to books on the market so she did the best she could. If she could only see me now.

In one hour and fifty one minutes, in the Eastern Time Zone, I will be forty years old.

It's just another day.

On my twenty-first birthday I celebrated with my mother and my then girlfriend a few short days before I officially moved away from 1073 Bedford St. where I had lived all my life. We had decided to spend the summer on Martha's Vineyard, and then, perhaps, move to Western Massachusetts where we had mutual friends. Things were turbulent between members of my family and me to say the least but my mother made that day as special as she could. We celebrated with a grand dinner and then gifts and, of course, a cake--angel food cake, my favorite. And then she went back to the house I grew up in, and I went back to the duplex I was slumming in, and we went on with our lives like people do. I never moved back home, and now I type from the house I hope to someday raise my own child. Someday I may return back to this house after seeing him or her off to begin their own unpredictable journey. Only time will tell.

In an hour and nineteen minutes, in the Eastern Time Zone, I will be forty years old.

It's just another day.

The last couple of birthdays I had with my mom are cloudy at best. I've gotten into the habit these days of focusing less on the negative parts of my life than the positive so I'm not going to sully this time here trashing myself. But I just wish I had a clearer picture of what we did. I probably remember the last couple with my mom, when she was still here, as well as I remember the first few. Go in either direction and things get more in focus, but back towards the beginning and end it's just not there.

In one hour and thirty minutes, in the Eastern Time Zone, I will be forty years old.

It's just another day.

I love my life. I love my girlfriend. I love my house. I love my friends. I love my cousins on the west coast, my aunts, my great cousins in Poland, and everybody whom I work with in the Young at Heart Chorus. I have everything I could possibly ask for. I long for nothing. I am one of the lucky ones. Every day is a collection of moments all so unique and precious that I can let the aggravating ones slip under and between the good ones, and as they all stand at attention for roll call at the end of the day, as I kiss my love goodnight, I can average them together and smile and fall asleep and know that I, thankfully, will never be able to predict what the next collection of them will be like. I've had amazing accomplishments. I've had devastating failures. I've lost the most important people in my world. I've welcomed the most important person in my world in and watched her grow to love me like no one before and stand by me as strong and as tall as I ever thought I could. I've seen my world change from one of drunken, drugged, slurring and rude to one of clear focused power and serenity, endlessly beautiful and unflinchingly real.

I have come to a new place.

I have shed a thousands skins.

I stand with a spine strengthened by the words, actions and results of a renovated life ripped from the clutches of an early demise, shaken out on the porch and left to soak up a good, long rain.

And if you think that's dramatic you're damn well right.

Because a life without drama is a life never begun.

And I'd like to take the time now to thank my mother for beginning mine.

In an hour and eleven minutes, in the Eastern Time Zone, I will be forty years old.

It's just another day.

And when I stop to think about it, if I was born on May 9, at 11:20 pm at the UCLA hospital in California, then that would mean that in the Eastern Time Zone on that same night it would have clearly been 2:20 in the morning. And if that morning would have been Mother's Day ...

Needless to say she should have gotten that flower.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom.

I love you so very much.

Your boy, always,

Frederick Alexander Johnson

Thanks for reading.

PS: the pic above is dated 5/11/1970 with the words

"My life ... my joy ... my SON."

"(2 days old!)"

My how time catches up.