Many self-pitying people say how much they hate their birthday, how something bad always happens on their special day. I don't exactly hate my birthday, it just never goes quite as planned. (My hatred for Christmas is much stronger.)
Five years ago, my twenty-first birthday fell on Easter. To put it bluntly, it sucked. Sure, I was already drinking nine years before that, but everyone deserves to go to a bar on their twenty-first and have strangers congratulate you and buy you shots... to spend it at home with your family -- especially my family -- it was simply uneventful. But this isn't about my twenty-first birthday, this is about my twenty-sixth...
Since my birthday fell on Easter Sunday, it was decided I would celebrate the days before.
The Russian Vodka Room is a low-key Midtown piano bar with an array of high-quality, house-infused vodkas, making it a perfect choice for my Friday intimate gathering. After a couple hours, my empty stomach that consumed itself with straight vodka decided it did not want anymore. My brain shut off and I threw up. I don't remember the throwing up ordeal of course, I remember laughing with friends then waking up in my bed.
Saturday, in addition to the large yellowish bruises covering my body, my limbs ached, as my head spun in a vat of vodka. Around 10 p.m. my last bout of throw up emerged, red from the Gatorade I was drinking. The bridge on my nose developed a bruise, after smacking my face into the toilet from a quick run and slip to the bathroom. And after canceling my big dive bar smash where I invited every acquaintance I knew, I celebrated midnight by curling into a ball on the bathroom floor, reliving my early college days while simultaneously growing into my late-twenties.
Seems like I have everything figured out just fine.
The next day was spent at my mother's house with some family members and Italian food. Everything was okay until my 4'11" mother walked down the stairs dressed as the Easter Bunny. Seriously-- she sported carrot slippers, a full bunny suit, and a massive bunny head. As if this wasn't enough, she squeaked, "Happy Birthday Stephanie!" then nuzzled the bunny head into my face like I was actually going to pose for a picture. It was one of the most frightening moments in my life and I questioned whether or not I was still drunk from two nights before or maybe I was really turning six, not twenty-six. What about shrooms taken eight years ago? Could they induce a hallucinatory trip almost a decade later?
So that was my second Easter birthday. Taking a different form, read about the first one in a poem written during another life.
Happy Easter Birthday
Underneath my down comforter I hear
my brother’s voice bellow,
“Drink this. I made it for you.”
My head peeks out, confronted
with a champagne glass,
“Happy 21 Year Old!” in rainbow paint.
“Take this. It has nutrients.”
Then, a low grumble
“You act like you’re 80.”
I grab it. Chug it.
Stare at the mirror: numb.
My curls sit atop my head
like erratic broccoli sprouts.
My eyes: red, baggy, dark-circled
and puffy. Holding the glass,
I read the words backwards,
wonder why I am not a happy 21-year-old
and what room has a mirror facing their bed.
This is not feng-shui.