It’s my birthday. Today I turn 45. 45.
Most people get freaked out when they turn 30. For me 45 has been the most contemplative. Not because I feel particularly old, although some days my body tells me otherwise, but it sort of feels like a halfway mark. I’ve heard people say they want to live to be 100 and all I can think of is “Why?” 100 seems fragile and rather lonely. Our bodies seem to absorb ourselves as we get really old. And while my current form with its excess could use less I don’t find this concept of desiccation pleasant.
Friends and family pass around us. Will my husband still be with me when I am that old? Who will find me if I die alone in my own home? How long will it take to make the discovery? Who will care? These are the things people without children worry about.
Maybe I am wrong about this.
Instead, a declaration. 90. That seems like a good year. As good as any. A long life filled and fulfilled.
Birthdays are special. I have seen a new phenomenon, or perhaps a new to me phenomenon, on the Internet lately. Of people celebrating “golden birthdays.” The year in which your age matches your day of birth. This seems like a fine idea.
Although we didn’t know it at the time I celebrated mine with a trip to see the Beach Boys. My favorite band back then. My first concert. Or was it the that year I got to take a few of my friends to Bush Gardens? Was that 11 or 12? These are the things we lose. This accuracy of memory. Either way, doesn’t matter. Good times.
Perhaps more important than a golden birthday for someone born in mid April is the thought that your birthday could fall on Easter. This, I thought, would be like hitting the birthday jackpot. Birthday cake (I loooove cake) AND an Easter basket. Life doesn’t get better. This dawned on me when I was 8 at which point I decided to calculate when this synchronicity would occur. I don’t remember now (ahem) when I thought it was—sometime in my teens maybe—but it turns out it was when I was by myself in grad school. Completely bummed. But I went to the grocery and bought myself one of those cakes made to look like a bunny. You know the kind—single round layer cut in half then turned on its diameter, frosted and coated in colored coconut with a plastic bunny face squished on one end. It was delicious. It reminded me of the “coconut cut-up cakes“my grandma would bake for my birthday. One year a rocking horse, the next a butterfly. It is amazing the shapes you can get with a standard baking pan, a box cake mix, and a little creativity and food coloring.
Little did I know back then that Easter was a moveable feast. “It has come to be the first Sunday after the ecclesiastical full moon that occurs on or soonest after 21 March but calculations vary.” Note this is the Western Easter and not the Orthodox Easter. Damn schisms. Religion is complicated.
It happened again in 2009. We had dinner with family and I made my first “yellow cake with pink frosting.” It has been my go-to birthday cake ever since (except for trying that salted caramel buttercream last year which was not worth a repeat). Although truth be told I substitute a yellow cake recipe from this book which I like better, is moist and easy to make. Either way, this cake reminds me of the cakes my other grandma, my southern grandmamma, used to bake and that cake I had in New York City from Amy’s Bread on Bleeker Street.
I asked for the recipe. Turns out it wasn’t available but they had a cookbook in the works. I said I wanted to the recipe because this would end a quest to define my “perfect” birthday cake. When asked what my birthday was, April 12, they said that was Amy’s birthday too. A match meant to be. But maybe I’m remembering incorrectly (ahem). Either way, doesn’t matter.
Best get to baking. Seems like a fine idea.