I was an odd kid. My favorite birthday cake was walnut. With my mom’s incredible vanilla icing slathered all over it and coconut dusted on top. I loved coconut. Still do. I maybe baked one cake in my entire adult life. And that was from a box. I am amazed how my mom used to bake. Really bake. Stirring up clouds of flour in the kitchen and making cut-out circles of wax paper that fit perfectly into cake pans that were anything but new. My mom baked often. And always for my birthday.
I can’t remember the last time I had a birthday cake. Oh, I’ve had cupcakes and brownies, with a candle stuck in or maybe even a sparkler, most often in restaurants with friends. But never a whole cake baked from scratch just for me. Birthdays became decidedly fluid occasions. Always with the alcohol flowing. Fancy cocktails with shots mixed in. Or, in later years, glass after glass of wine, poured from bottles brought as gifts but always emptied by evening’s end.
For about as long as I can remember, birthdays were just another excuse to celebrate. Any excuse would do: because it was my birthday, your birthday, a holiday, the weekend, vacation, sunny, or pouring rain. There was always something to celebrate, always a reason to drink. Until reasons were no longer necessary, of course. I drank at every meal and after and then alone. Drank myself to sleep. Drank myself awake. Finally realized I was drinking away my life.
Today will be my first sober birthday. Ever. At least since I was a kid blowing out the candles and making a wish. I have no idea what I might have wished for back then. But I’m sure I didn’t wish to become an alcoholic. Anyway, I lit a candle this morning. Just to make a wish and blow it out. Sorry, I can’t tell you what I wished for. Then my wish wouldn’t come true. But I can assure you I didn’t wish for a drink. Not to celebrate my birthday. Not ever.
Life is too good. Today I am a one-year-older sober woman. With a clear head and coconut dusted dreams. Thanks be to God! And happy, happy birthday … to me!