For someone who loves parties, I am unsure of having them for myself. When I left home, imprinted in my soul was a dread of celebratory occasions such as birthdays and Christmas. They would be spoiled, a combination of family tension building up, alcohol and drugs, expectations not met and complete exhaustion. My last big party was when I was thirteen, and in some ways, it has felt as though time stopped there. I forgot how to celebrate. I didn’t dare expect hurrah’s. My sixteenth birthday was spent down the coast, after the police advised their fear that the man who threw me off the building would come and get me. He had said he would. So I bought myself a book, and made myself a banana sandwich for my 16th birthday. My seventeenth birthday was spent alone, in my little room. I recall I studied. I felt unloved and as though I were a phantom, touching the perimeter of the living, though never quite making contact. There was no school formal, no 18th or 21st birthdays. I felt as though I wasn’t worth the effort. Grand celebrations happened to other people, not me. My birthdays were always low-key. You know what? I am tired of playing down my life. The biggest celebration I had was my book launch. I was so nervous, though when I saw the familiar, precious faces assembled, the nerves went away. I was safe amongst this crowd. They were here for me.
Next birthday, I may organize a dinner. I may organize to celebrate this wild and precious life in style. I may celebrate with a heart full of thankfulness for the life I have been given, the life left to live. No longer content to play small and hide occasions which should be celebrated. It will no longer do.