(completely failing to follow Mr. King’s advice, I find myself writing on my birthday – not secretly, but right out here in the open. What would he think, if he found out?)
So, I turn 22 today.
What are my plans? Throw a huge party and invite everyone I know? Get some alcohol into my system? Maybe have a small celebration with the family? Or am I going to hide in my room with my phone off and laptop disconnected, and spend the day just reading while snuggled up underneath my blankets as the rain pelts against my windows?
I’m leaving my house at 7P.M. later to fetch a girl whom I barely know – named Sharon – from the airport; and if at all possible, I’d like to have dinner some time in the evening.
This plan of mine has been met with all sorts of responses – surprise; bewilderment; confusion; “oooh”s; and in one case, outrage. Why? Why am I fetching someone from the airport on my birthday? Don’t I have plans to celebrate properly? Why, Joseph, why?
I don’t know. And that’s the truth – I have no idea why I volunteered myself to do this. It was 4A.M., I was 2000 words into my entry to the Manchester Fiction Writing Prize, and it seemed like a good idea at that time. But people apparently don’t take “it seemed like a good idea at that time” as a legitimate reason, and so I have taken to giving the Indian head-wobble in response to their “why”s.
(what does it mean? Sometimes “yes”; sometimes “no”; sometimes both of them; sometimes neither one)
The last person I’ve had to answer to was Stephen, earlier this afternoon. (He’s the one who shared The Inverse Law of Vocabulary Sophistication and Language Command with me). And because it’d be quite ironic to pull the Indian head-wobble on an Indian (and also because I was speaking to him over the phone, which made the communication of the head-wobble slightly difficult, as you might imagine), I just shrugged and said, tongue in cheek, “Because life is meant to be lived.”
I’ll readily admit that I am, in fact, a very strange person. Most people don’t get me, and I don’t get most people. I hate the taste of alcohol. I burst into songs in public when surrounded by strangers. I love receiving gifts, but end up keeping them in a corner of the room until they collect enough dust to trigger an earth-shattering allergic reaction. I long for intimacy, but I shy away from attention. My idea of enjoying life, I imagine, is very different from what the next person might imagine it to be.
And so that’s what I said: because life is meant to be lived. If there’s anything I’d like to do on my birthday, it’ll be to do something out of the ordinary. Not necessarily new, whether to me or to others, but something that breaks the mold of how one should be spending their birthday. Last year, I spent the night of my birthday attending another person’s birthday party. So this year, I will spend it fetching a nigh-complete stranger from the airport, and holding palaver until the time comes for us to part ways.
What do I expect out of this? I really have no idea. I’m a terrible conversationalist to begin with; and it’s a long drive from the airport to wherever it is that Sharon lives.
(I am, however, an incredible listener – I have once listened to a girl talk about her life for 3 straight hours. I doubt she even knew my name when I walked away, at the end of the 3 hours and of my patience)
But I’ll find out. After all, what’s life without that exciting, gripping sense of uncertainty?
And life, of course, is meant to be lived.