None* of my friends in San Francisco knew it was my birthday, and I didn’t tell them. One of the roommates asked me when my birthday was a few weeks back, but I was kind of vague about it.
“I’m a Pisces,” I said.
Don’t get me wrong - I love celebrating people’s birthdays. Until I had a conversation with my friend Eva regarding birthdays, I couldn’t verbalize why. I usually just said birthdays are fun. But Eva put the words right into my mouth. Birthdays are a celebration of existence and appreciation the person. It’s your time to let that person know that you are thankful to know them and that you’re grateful that they’re a part of your life. Everyone has preferred manners of showing appreciation - my mechanism is usually by gifts and doing something for them. Birthdays are perfect for that.
Every year, a birthday is an event when everyone wishes you “happy birthday,” sending you cards or coming out to talk to you. I saw this year as an opportunity. I was surrounded by new people that didn’t know when my birthday was. I decided not to tell anyone because no one knew. I could see what happens.
I’ve become apathetic toward my birthday. The most insignificant reason is that I don’t want to be disappointed. I love to get dressed up, to get together, to celebrate. I end up brewing up these lavish scenarios for my birthday in my mind, but it never happens or goes the way I expect. I always try to stay grounded in my daydreams, but my mind runs away from time to time, and my birthday is one of those times. By telling no one, I couldn’t hold it to standards. It’s not about age or growing old. I think that Joan Jett & the Blackhearts define it very appropriately in the song, Different:
“Age is not in years, it sits between your ears”
So, what happens on your birthday and no one knows?
You feel like you’re carrying a secret the whole day. A big one that if you tell just one close friend, your day can pivot into something else. I interacted with people, like normal, went about my day, like normal, and did everything like normal. It’s an interesting take, talking to people you consider close in your life, and they have no idea.
Leading up to my birthday, close friends from my time before moving to San Francisco reached out to me. I received phone calls and texts from my extended family, and my immediate family sent me a card.
But beyond that, no one else knew.
I ended up at a store the day of my birthday. I felt odd asking if there were any birthday discounts when I had not told anyone else it was my birthday. I ended up asking in the most hushed tone to avoid people overhearing me, even though I was all the way on the other side of the bay and none of my friends were in the area.
The night of my birthday, my house was having a group dinner and there was a large group of people gathered. I contemplated just bursting it out and telling everyone - it was very tempting! Instead, I turned to one of my roommates and informed him I had a secret, but I’m not going to tell him. He was begging to know, but I didn’t tell him.
Not having any expectations of anyone doing anything for me was really nice. The night before, I impulsively went to a friend’s concert, which had a pre-game on a party bus that took us to the top of Twin Peaks. I met fascinating new people and ended up seeing some old friends there, too. I spent the day at a lake, enjoying unexplored places of the Bay area. I ended the weekend surrounded by friends, old and new.
* - I told my friend Eva the night before my birthday while at a concert, under the promise of not telling anyone