Thursday, August 11, 2011


File:Hohenschwangau - Schloss Neuschwanstein1.jpg 
Neuschwanstein Castle (Wikipedia)

For a long time, I have thought birthday celebrations ridiculous. That hasn't prevented me from celebrating my own or those of others with great enthusiasm. Darryl certainly made my 50th a huge deal, with 50 long stem red roses and 50 bottles of Veuve Clicquot  Champagne. He invited so many guests I lost count. Starr was here, and virtually everyone I knew then. People came from all over, not just Atlanta. He created a similar if somewhat less extravagant bash for my 60th 4 years ago. And in return, I helped him celebrate his 40th in Vermont with tennis and a civil union, and his 50th in New Orleans, with Starr and Katie.

Because my birthday is in August, I have had many exotic ones overseas, beginning with my 23d birthday in Mad King Ludwig's glorious Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria, two fellow travelers buying me a stein of German beer and toasting my day. My 30th is the subject of a poem and a short story I've written. My journals record other such birthday high times. So, while I mock the foolishness of singling out one's birthday as anything special in the course of life, I must have, at least subconsciously, the expectation that the day of my birth will be pleasant and adventurous.

That may be why last Sunday was disappointing. Nothing materialized. Darryl hardly acknowledged the day (I had simply given him a card on his day weeks ago). Will had called Saturday to say he wanted to spend the day with me, possibly even taking a short road trip. But on Sunday he showed up hung over at 4:30 with plans of his own for the evening. I got a number of calls, and might have gotten a dinner invitation, had I not had company. I spent the evening alone, watching True Blood.

Curiously, perhaps, the evening alone made me realize how much I miss the sea. How fine it would have been to take a walk on the beach, listen to the waves, enjoy fresh air, rather than the sultry, polluted air of Atlanta. At 64 I have to make major decisions where to live soon, to get on with living and writing while I still have the prospect of change. I came across another poem by W. S. Merwin today that expresses so well what I desire:

W. S. Merwin
A Birthday

Something continues and     I don't know what to call it
though the language is full of suggestions
in the way of language
                but they are all anonymous
and it's almost your birthday     music next to my bones

these nights we hear the horses     running in the rain
it stops and the moon comes out     and we are still here
the leaks in the roof go on dripping     after the rain has passed
smell of ginger flowers     slips through the dark house
down near the sea     the slow heart of the beacon flashes

the long way to you is still tied to me     but it brought me to you
I keep wanting to give you     what is already yours
it is the morning     of the mornings together
breath of summer     oh my found one
the sleep in the same current     and each waking to you
when I open my eyes     you are what I wanted to see.


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