Sunday, April 28, 2013

Shift Freedom


This is me, on the eve of another birthday. Good Lord, they just keep coming. It's high time, don't you think, that I make peace with the face I wear, the body I'm in? Putting that photo of me taken yesterday, my face, chins and all, right there in the public square is a start, or that's what I'm calling it anyway.

I sat with my husband and my friend in a pizza and Chicago grill place yesterday afternoon, planning my birthday party, making a long list of people I love on a paper napkin. I was mixing all my social groups with abandon, and mixing food themes with abandon, too, requesting pina coladas and my husband's seafood gumbo to go with the birthday cake.

The list made and lunch paid for, the three of us meandered through a craft fair, where my husband bought me one of those typewriter key bracelets I have always wanted, it seemed the perfect talisman for a writer, which is how I describe myself in my secret heart, but in all the years of stopping by that stall at city craft fairs, I had never actually purchased one because the price always seemed too high for whimsy. But yesterday, above my protestations about the cost, my husband reached into his wallet and bought me the one I held in my hands longest, and he fastened it on my wrist with great fanfare and kissed me happy birthday. And even though we bickered back and forth quite a bit yesterday, these are the sorts of things he does, even in the midst of the two of us jockeying for petty control, and it's no wonder I will always love him.


I was drawn to that particular bracelet because the words "Shift Freedom" pierced me when I saw them. To me they meant, shift your mindset to freedom, that's what came into my mind as soon as I saw that key, larger than the rest, centered for emphasis, and at the ends of the string the numbers of my two birthdays: 3, the one my mother knows is the true date, and 4, the date my birth certificate immortalized, the identity that institutions and bureaucracies believe to be truth. Later, we sat for a long while on benches outside the American Museum of Natural History, and watched people come and go, the children playing around the fountain, the tourists of all descriptions, the trees at their most glorious, the breeze a caressing kind, the sky intensely blue overhead.


This morning, though, I awoke and realized I don't want a big birthday bash after all. Too much stress. I am not an easy entertainer. My husband says it's because in my family, entertainments were lavish affairs, with crystal and china and silverware and lace, and cooking for days, and crowds and crowds of people from all our circles, and more food than could ever be consumed. My mother was a natural hostess, she did it magnificently, her teas, her dinner parties, her outdoor cocktail soirees, and I was always pressed into service until at some point in the proceedings I would quietly escape to my room, taking sister-cousins with me, and there the real party would happen, impromptu.

I remember the sense of wonder I felt at Christmas in my husband's parents' home, when the whole extended family was invited to dinner and yet there was no frantic flurry of activity beforehand. His mom would get up in the morning and go to church, and after she would start cooking, all the while chatting with everyone, and different family members would chop this or stir that, no stress in them at all, and suddenly I would look up and the table would be covered with dishes she had prepared while seeming to be doing nothing at all, and the clan would arrive and the whole affair would just flow.

I don't know how to do that. When faced with planning a party, I freeze. Though I did manage birthday parties for my children, it is so stressful for me, triply so if I am planning an occasion for myself. Come to think of it, other than my wedding, I have never really done such a thing. I imagine no one will come, there won't be enough food, the right music, people won't get along, they won't enjoy themselves, on and on. And so I woke up this morning and announced to my husband that I had changed my mind, I don't want a big gathering. Let's keep it simple, I said. Maybe just dinner somewhere with a couple of friends, or maybe just you and me. I don't think this is quite what Shift Freedom is supposed to mean, but I suppose I have to start somewhere. I'll start here—with consciousness about why I am making this choice, knowing that it might not seem to be the brave choice, but it frees me, too.



33 comments:

  1. I love this whole post and I would come to your birthday party and I think that bracelet is DIVINE and have also always wanted one. Happy Almost birthday love to your beautiful face.
    rebecca

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rebecca, if you would come to my birthday party then I would have to have it! xo

      Delete
  2. What Rebecca said exactly. And also- we are way too much alike. I swear to you, I am so fortunate because my friend Lis takes charge of my birthday for me so many years. This year she says we are going to drive to Asheville and visit the newly weds for a week and enjoy the crazy-cool-city. Perfect. I hope it happens like that. I hope your birthday is joyful and everything you want it to be and every time I have a party, I have the same fears and it all adds up to stress and I freak out and then everything goes lovely and I never learn. Ever.
    Kisses, darling. Your bracelet is perfect.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ms. Moon, Lis's plan for your birthday sounds absolutely divine. We all need a Lis in our lives! Love to you, sister-friend.

      Delete
  3. Oh, I love that bracelet. I learned how to type on old, manual typewriters and I've always wanted some cool retro typewriter key jewelry too, and I haven't bought any for myself, either. Your husband is so wonderful. Maybe he will throw a big surprise birthday party for you, then distract the crowd while you pick two or thee guests to sneak off to your bedroom with. And then bring you a pina colada and some cake.

    I hope your birthday is full of delights. With much love, my pretty friend. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ellen, i learned to type on those old manuals, too, and they have a very cool retro vibe to them now. My husband is wonderful, but he is not the surprise party type. He is the tell me what you want and I will make it happen type. Which is lovely, too. Hugs.

      Delete
  4. Your face is beautiful!!! I have found an inexpensive antidote to wrinkles, jowls and multiple chins....a HUGE smile. I even smile in the car now! I am very good a making lots of parties and get togethers for family and friends but not myself. I did have a BD party when I was 5. My mom made individual cakes with barbie doll bodies and giant, pastel dresses. I wish I had a photo. It is still deep in my heart of memories. My only party. We go to dinner, who ever is home but not a party. Not even for my 50th.
    Hope yours is wonderful and everything you want it to be! Even if you change your mind at the last minute!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kathleen, thank you and yes, a smile works wonders I too have found! Lifts the wrinkles but not the chins, unfortunately. Haha. Your fifth birthday party sounds amazing!

      Delete
  5. I just wrote a long comment. It has disappeared. Maybe too much info.....
    Have a wonderful BD however you decide to spend it!!!
    BEAUTIFUL PHOTO!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It did arrive. Not too much info, ever! Thanks for being here, friend.

      Delete
  6. You are so beautiful. Big gatherings are a mixed blessing... Like Rebecca I just love everything about this post. You have such a beautiful, integrating writing voice. Happy Birthday my friend!!! xo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Maggie May, coming from you, such an incandescent writer, that is high praise. thank you! xo

      Delete
  7. I would come to your party. Even though I usually make some excuse not to go anywhere. You and yourself look beautiful in the photo above and if what you want is a quiet, stress free gathering of to or 4 or whatever, that's freedom shift if you do it without guilt. Happy Birthday!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kristin, i love what you say! No guilt! You're so right, that is the true freedom. Love.

      Delete
  8. I love your husband. Is it okay to say that? Okay. I love how your husband loves you. There. That sounds better. I love even more that you let him love you like he does. These posts of the two of you make my heart soar. Love is a many splendored thing indeed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kimberly, it is perfectly okay to say that because i love your husband, too! lol

      Delete
  9. You are really very pretty -- it's funny how everyone recognizes that outside of us. I am glad you are 'shifting freedom.' Doing whatever you want and making no excuses is an excellent way to start. Have a splendid birthday! Sweet Jo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sweet Jo, your comment reminds me of that Dove commercial now making the rounds. Making no excuses, yes. I am always happy to see you here.

      Delete
  10. love the bracelet...have never seen those but I want one and I don't want much of anything! Planning exactly what you want for your birthday is exactly what shift freedom means...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. afcg, i believe you are completely right. occasionally, knowing what i want is the challenge. ha.

      Delete
  11. You know what? Your children are like light whose source is you! Gorgeous, smooth-skinned, beautiful, serene you. I wish we could all zap ourselves to you on your birthday, but in lieu of that, I'll close my eyes and wish a happy one for you. Your bracelet is gorgeous -- and as I said this week, "there are no accidents."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Elizabeth, what a beautiful thing to say. I believe it might be the other way around, my kids are my light source, but maybe it has to go both ways for it to work, no? I see that light surrounding you and your kids, always. Hugs.

      Delete
  12. Shift freedom! I love it! What a great bracelet. I wonder what that "shift freedom" key actually did -- disable the shift function, or enable it (like CAPS LOCK) or what? I've never heard of a shift freedom key.

    Anyway, I don't blame you regarding the party. I have always shied away from birthday parties of my own. I don't like being the center of attention of a big group, though it would be fun to mix up all my friends from all the different stages of my life.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Steve, it was used to disable the cap lock key! I think everyone here might like that bracelet, because we are writers, all.

      Delete
    2. Oh, I see! That would make sense -- "shift freedom." Interesting!

      Delete
  13. Angella, my birthday wish for you is that you could see yourself the way others see you, a beautiful, warm, stylish woman with great glasses.
    The pina colada and gumbo party had me dressed and almost out the door but the intimate dinner with your man seems perfect as is the bracelet! Shift Freedom! I love it!
    Are we both Taurus?
    xxoo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yoilie, the way you say it—pina colada and gumbo party—it does sound kind of awesome! And yes, we are both Taurus and I think we might also both married to Scorpio men. (Or is Scott on the Libra cusp?) So when is your special day? Hugs.

      Delete
  14. You are a writer.

    The bracelet is perfect, and you are perfect.

    I think Shift Freedom means doing what you want, not what you think you should, and so cancelling the big party for a quieter affair is exactly that. The bravest choice. I think in your writing, sometimes you have to do what isn't safe, but in your social life, you must do exactly as you please.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Happy Birthday, and may I say, you are a beautiful woman. I hope you enjoyed your special day.

    ReplyDelete
  16. You are gorgeous. Love you. I wish happy all days, not only one.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Happy Birthday to you! I agree with yobobe. If you could only see yourself as we see you. You are a beautiful. True and original. Time to own it girl. You are fabulous!

    ReplyDelete
  18. beautiful angella, inside and out. i wish you a wonderful life-affirming birthday.
    i dont usually use language like this (too new agey for me),
    but:

    feel
    the love.

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...