Friday, August 24, 2012
Concerning a Birthday, and an Anniversary
For most of my life, I have not been a fan of my own birthday. For almost as long as I can remember, its approach has coincided with the end of vacation and the resumption of work. When I was a kid, it meant that summer was over and school was about to begin again- the bikes, the GI Joe Action Figures, the ThingMakers I unwrapped after blowing out the candles would be enjoyed for roughly one week before spending most of each day sitting around waiting for me to get back from sitting in classrooms. (My sister's birthday is May 31, and I was always jealous of that- what an awesome time to have a party with gifts, just before the start of summer vacation!)
When I went to college, August 24 was usually a day of travel, from Vermont to Washington, DC, if I had not departed from the family homestead to resume studies already. Birthday greetings came over the phone and through the mail.
For the past 18 years, I have "celebrated" my birthday mainly through Back to School meetings- assembling class lists, covering bulletin boards, and moving books from dusty storage rooms on to shelves. The hiking shorts, T-shirts and sneakers are set aside for suits, ties and uncomfortable shoes. I get emails and texts congratulating me on moving one step closer to The Abyss. We had cake at a staff meeting once. But it's not a fun day. It hasn't been one for most of my life, and it sure doesn't look like this one will be any different.
August 24, 2012 is also an anniversary for me. One year ago, I gave myself the gift of addition through subtraction: I gave up Facebook.
I know people who have given up Facebook because they felt that they were "addicted" to the site- they were spending too much time talking to virtual friends and losing contact with actual living, breathing ones. I didn't have that problem. My mistake was in accepting one friend request too many on the innocent theory that faded feelings, like colors, stay faded, and can't be revived through electronic communication- or even face-to-face contact.
I can't say it doesn't still hurt, but I can't say I really miss Facebook, either. I hear family and friends talk about it, check it on their phones, and occasionally ask me why the heck they need to call or text me when it would be Much More Convenient if I had just kept my account open. I just tell them I have no plans to go back- I re-opened an old wound once already, why go through that again?- and for the most part, they seem to think that's ok.
Anyway, it's August 24 again, which means that in a few days I'll be back at school, getting paid to spend time with some of the most amazing people on the planet. Maybe that's my birthday present. And my Anniversary present, too. Not bad.