I am pretty sure this officially qualifies as the best birthday of my life. At the very least it was the lowest stress. I’ll take it. No, I will not be repeating the experiment next year. Next year I will be traveling alone with the kids and it won’t be an option.
I drove up to Guerneville on Tuesday afternoon. I decided to make as little camp as possible. I set up my privacy pop up (it is just big enough to stand up inside and change your clothes if you have what some people might refer to as “modesty”–obviously I got dressed out in the open because that wasn’t my purpose) for my little travel toilet. I’m telling you, as lame as I feel that travel potty opens up a whole new world for me. (I have bladder issues. Being too far from a toilet is an issue for me.)
So outside the van I had the little toilet area, my chair and an ice chest. Everything else stayed in the van and I played with where things might live. I have some ideas for long-term living in the van.
First: I need an air mattress that will fit appropriately in the van. Sleeping on just the tumbling mats is very uncomfortable. Not going to work for months. Shanna says just bring more pillows and my thought is: but what do we do with them when we aren’t sleeping?
Tuesday I stayed near camp and didn’t do much but read. It was lovely.
On my birthday I woke up and sang happy birthday to me. I didn’t manage that day of silence thing. Ha. I am constitutionally incapable of silence, apparently. I talk to myself a lot.
I walked for a few hours. I walked past a spa place on my way out of town (I was just walking wherever) and I had the thought, “hmmm… do I want to waste money?” Short answer: yes.
On the way back into town I stopped and asked if it was possible to get any last minute spa services. Turns out that the person working the desk called around and one nice lady could come in.
Once I met her it felt very serendipitous. Turns out it was also her daughter’s birthday. She told me very specifically that she was so happy to be able to share her mother-love for another daughter on her birthday. I didn’t respond, exactly.
During the massage she asked about my tattoo, like body workers do. I gave very vague hints, like I do when I’m trying to not overwhelm people. She was very nice to me. She was very encouraging. She told me she was proud of me for picking my kids over grown ups who need to be able to take care of themselves. I cried on the table. Later I nearly fell asleep because I was so relaxed.
She totally undercharged me so I left a bigger tip to make up for what she was supposed to charge me. Because that’s how a rich person should roll. I honestly believe that. I hugged her when I left and thanked her for being part of the best birthday of my life.
I walked around for a while longer and got a single scoop vanilla ice cream cone (of *course* vanilla) and walked around town singing happy birthday to myself.
I bought a postcard and wrote on it and sent it to Shanna and Calli and Noah. It has already arrived at the house. The kids… really didn’t care. Oh well. So much for that effort.
I also bought a couple bumper stickers. Now I have reason to clean my disgustingly filthy vehicle. Once upon a time I had a car covered in bumper stickers. I took them all off when I started teaching. I have no one who can fire me now. Maybe time to be obnoxious again. Goodness knows I will drive this vehicle until it completely dies just like I did my last one.
I went back to camp and emptied my potty and got things ready for an easy pack-up-and-go experience.
I went to sleep around dinner time and woke up at 11pm. I drove home. I talked to Pam from 1-3, then went in and seduced Noah. I didn’t get nearly enough sleep during the night so Thursday I was a zombie.
All in all an entirely satisfactory birthday. Two thumbs up. Would do again.
I look forward to taking my kids up to the Russian River now that I understand a little bit more about what that means. We are going to have a lot of fun together.
So now I’m 33. I have weird feelings about 33. My parents were 32 when I was born. It feels like now I have lived through all the prerequisite time they had before me. Now I’m seeing the part of life that they lived through too. Now I’m comparing their direct actions to mine.
Someone on the PTSD forum asked if people are more successful than their abusers. Of course mostly people exploded at him because they feel they aren’t and they have deep shame around that. A few of us said, yes–we are more successful. And it’s ok to ask that question.
Why do some people experience trauma and curl up in a ball without ever being able to function again and some people bounce higher? I don’t know. I wish I did.
Yes, I think I am more successful than anyone else in my family. It’s not about my bank account balance. I am better at managing my impulses. I have managed to stop abusing people. (Yes, I freely acknowledge that I have abused people and I have the potential to do so in the future. I stomp on that like fuck.)
Dwayne. That was the name of the student I talked out of committing murder. I will never forget him. I don’t know if he went on to do it later or not. I hope not. I know that I talked him into a reprieve.
I may feel like a success for the rest of my life because of that moment. On that day I said the right thing. On that day I was able to share the enormity of pain he was in and show him that there were other options.
I wonder what happened to him. I have looked his name up on the internet and so far no murder convictions appear.
I feel successful because even though I *feel* alone sometimes I know that throughout my adult life there have been times when I have whispered “help” and closed my eyes and fallen backwards into a tightly woven web of love. I have the most amazing friends a person can have. I may not be blessed in the blood-relative department (though Shanna and Calli are pretty rad) but I have amazing friends. I have friends who will walk through fire for me.
It was sorta funny when I got to the camp ground. The guy who worked there gave me shit at first and sorta indicated I may not be welcome. Then I said, “Daddy James said I could come.” “James who….?” “James _______” “Oh! Of course you can stay! Tell him to come up here soon and visit me!”
It isn’t what you know, it is who you know. And I know some really wonderful people.
I got many wonderful emails and SMSs that I haven’t responded to yet. I’m still just kinda floating in the sleep deprived haze.
Today, we paint. Some friends are coming over to paint the planter boxes with us. It will be a lot of fun.
Life keeps plugging along.