This is my second birthday in a row that I have spent in a new place without many friends or family. Last time, I got a chocolate bacon martini and that summed up well the eclectic group of individuals that I had surrounded myself with in strange streets of Seattle. This year I bought a pretzel from a street vendor near Times Square. That also summed up well my experience.
I woke up before noon, excited for what birthday misadventures might take place in the coming 24 hours. Would I pull a Jeremih or might I find myself in an extended search for food/love/excitement only to find that the real adventure was right at home? I have two friends in New York. One worked all day and one goes to medical school. So he also worked all day. I went into Manhattan to see if there was a fun movie playing so that I could pretend I was enjoying myself while the end of my birthday came an hour and half closer. I didn’t find a movie, but I got hungry and got a pretzel.
Buying a pretzel fills me with that same excitement that waking up on my birthday does. I remember being a kid and enjoying pretzels because they were salty and starchy and had fun dipping sauces. I remember being a kid and enjoying my birthday because they included all my friends and fun games like bowling, mini-golf or sack-races. My body and surroundings have changed. After two bites I realize that pretzels are salty and starchy and give instant heartburn. The days when I enjoyed pretzels I was also able to pound down cupcakes while racing. Nowadays I make sure I will be within falling distance of a couch or bed before I eat a meal so that I can take a nap. Walking and eating has become a difficult enough task, but when it is dry compressed carbs covered in chunks of salt, my legs and chest start rebelling against my decision by demanding a break. After scraping off the salt and staring into the last twist of the pretzel, I finally made a good decision and threw away my last three bites.
I wish I had done the same with my birthday.
My childhood joys of unwrapping presents, eating cake and playing games translated to 23 year old me falling asleep on the subway, walking alone in the rain at 4 am, and telling a mildy attractive nerdy girl that I’m too broke to buy her a drink. If I had just thrown away the last couple of hours I could have gone to sleep in a bed, watched some hulu, and masturbated to youtube.
I really want to buy a pretzel.
Why do we remember things so fondly if it only sets us up for constant disappointment? When I turned 6, geese attacked my friends which caused Elizabeth Rockport to leave, I got caught in London’s Bridge falling down which brought me to screaming tears, and my parents served a carrot cake with a butterfly on it which impressed nobody.