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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

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A Very Good Year

It is the eve of my thirty-seventh birthday. In my fervor to shovel a path through my house today and brine a turkey, I nearly forgot.

My mother likes to tease that I was born demanding a birthday party, and it can still be truly said of me that I tend to elevate certain occasions to the level of sacrament. But that is less and less true where my own birthday is concerned. It isn't that I don't want to celebrate. If someone else were to do all the planning and cleaning, I would happily plug in my hot rollers and wear something fabulous. But as this ship's social director, I have four other birthday celebrations to coordinate throughout the year, plus all the other high holidays. I don't need one more to do/to buy list, especially not during Thanksgiving week.

When my mother's flowers arrived, I remembered it would be my birthday, and then I remembered again when I was driving to the grocery and liquor store for kosher salt and a bottle of zinfandel. I was at a particular intersection that for some reason seems to trigger a-ha moments for me. It's a completely non-descript place: Kavanaugh and Cantrell. I have no idea why it seems to lie across my spiritual fault line, but every now and then I pull up to a red light there, and my soul opens wide. It's where I had my last conversation with my father, on my cell phone, before he died. It's where I finally realized I was tired to death of putting off being a writer. Bring it on, I said, as the light turned green. Let's do the deal.

Today's awareness wasn't quite so dramatic. Perhaps because I already had the green light and was able to keep moving. But what came to me as I whizzed through was that 37 is a prime number.

(Wait for it.)

What I mean is that I was unable to divide my life into a slideshow of even installments, like I could with 36, or 35. So I reviewed instead all the ages I've been that end in seven, to see if I could discern a pattern. (I can't help it--I 'm a poet. My mind is a theme-seeking missile.)

What I noticed was that years that end in seven have been good ones for me, if not pivotal. They always find me leeward of life's mighty storms. Ten years ago, I was newly married for the second time. After setting myself and my old life on fire, I felt I had regenerated enough to take another stab at the white picket fence. Ten years before that, I was a senior in high school. Having had the kind of miserable adolescent experience that seems to be a prerequisite to becoming a writer, I got to top it off with one mostly fun and frivolous year. I had wonderful girlfriends, sexy boyfriends, and if it wasn't quite all Sweet Valley High, it at least wasn't insufferable.

Ten years before that, I was the age my eldest child is now. It was the year after we moved back to my father's hometown, the year before the neighbor's girl told me about Santa, the year before I knew the words cancer or divorce. It was the year before my grandfather would die. It was the last year I remember life being more or less safe and uncomplicated. I concluded that ages ending in seven have been times spent with my head mostly above water, catching my breath in between waves.

From making poems, I know that if you can gaze into the middle distance long enough, neither too close or too far, the order of a thing eventually reveals itself. Life wants to be read. It is jumping up and down with a megaphone, wearing a posterboard, hurling things at your head to get your attention. It is waiting for you, day after day, at the same intersection.

I think it will be a very good year.



Blogger JKC said...

When we were children you were one of the first to befriend me when I moved to that town and when I left you were there to say good-bye. You were always a kind spirit wiser than your years. I am glad I have bumped into you and I wish you only peace and happiness as you are most deserving. Happy Birthday!:)


9:04 PM  
Blogger Kyran said...

Thanks, Jennifer. I am glad to have you back in my life again. :)

8:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i wonder why it was i never read this piece until today. it is lovely and like you i've noticed a pattern in my life. i can't recall what the magic interval is right now. i do believe in the "7 year itch" i think my good years end in 5's

8:36 AM  

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