Life Moves Pretty Fast
Fifty-eight years ago, my mother (Donna) took a cab to the hospital because she was about to have a baby, and walking wasn’t an option.
No one in our family had a car which didn’t matter because she had never learned to drive. Yellow cab to the rescue. When I was younger, I used to tell people that I was born in a taxi.
Not sure why I liked that lie because my start in life was already interesting without lies. Donna didn’t have a husband or a doctor. There was no prenatal care, baby showers or a man by her side welcoming their baby girl.
She smoked, drank, and waited tables until she showed up ready to pop. I was born on April 22, 1964 and Donna Jean Carpenter named me April Jean. She was going to name me Penny but someone in the family beat her to it and took the name. What a relief! What would my life have turned out if I were a Penny? I’m glad I didn’t t have to find out.
The name April means to open and symbolizes spring, when buds open and flowers appear. Six years after I was born, Earth Day was founded to promote ecology and respect for life on the planet. Now every year my birthday is celebrated around the world by people who love planet earth and by some, who love me.
I’m happy I’m April even though I’m sure Donna didn’t research and consider the options and the impact her choice would have on her baby girl’s personality. I’m just glad I was born in April and not June. June Jean sounds a little too country for me.
I don’t have a lot of childhood birthday memories but I do recall celebrating one birthday with the Binger boys. They lived in our apartment community. Joe was my age and he had two older brothers. We played pin the tail on the donkey and I was the only girl at my party. Maybe that’s where my love for the opposite sex started because I’ve been boy crazy for as long as I remember.
The birthday that I will never forget helped to change my outlook on how I celebrate my celebrate my life. I was dating Bill, the manager of the restaurant I worked at. Bill was one of my first mistakes in men; he was broke, thought he was a stud, and was a chronic liar and alcoholic. Not a great catch so I’m glad he ruined my 30th because after that I gathered my senses and kicked his ass to the curb.
The evening started out great. He took me to my favorite restaurant, Dee Felice in Covington, Kentucky. In the day it was a sexy jazz joint and the band played on a tiny stage behind the bar.
The menu was Cajun and the combination of music and food made it a favorite for me. Bill swept me off of my feet with extravagant gifts, and as a young girl, I associated that with love. He wasn’t a total ass and I do think he loved me.
One birthday he rented a limousine for me and my gals to go out on the town. Naturally, I assumed he had planned something big for my thirtieth. All night long I kept waiting, anticipating. Not for a proposal but for a big surprise party. The longer the evening went the more disappointed I became and the more we both drank which eventually ended the evening in a huge fight.
He took me home, it was ten o’clock and I was left alone, sobbing, and sad. Not a great start to thirty but I learned a great lesson on that birthday. You can’t expect anyone to make you happy, that’s an unfair expectation.
This is not a poor me sob story, it’s reality, and in my life high expectations have always left me disappointed. I learned that you have to take responsibility for your own happiness and I’m glad I learned that early.
From that moment forward I happily planned my own birthday celebration and began using this special day to focus on me and evaluate where I’ve been, and where I want to go in the year ahead. Your birthday is a great day to review your bucket list (everyone needs a bucket list) and make sure that you’re moving forward in your life and doing things you dream of, not just what you’ve always done.
Your birthday is a great reminder that life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it. Ferris Bueller is a genius and if you haven’t watched Ferris Bueller’s Day Off you need to watch it now!
This year when I started thinking about turning fifty-eight and moving dangerously close to my sixties, I felt a strange longing to write.
In high school I loved creative writing and since then my only commitment to writing has been journaling and writing my own Christmas poem every year. I don’t think it was an accident that during the pandemic I met an amazing writer, Angela Burton. She introduced me to Feet to the Fire Writers’ Workshops. I was in awe of Angela and wanted to learn more so I signed up for her workshop that began January 2022.
I was hooked and she taught me that writing requires discipline to commit to the practice of picking up a pen or your computer and entering your thoughts on to a page.
Some things will be good, a lot will be garbage, but the commitment is how you start and how you learn. She also encouraged reading which is a huge passion for me, so that was easy. As a kid I loved the library and the book-mobile. Getting lost in a story gave me refuge and showed me that the world was so much bigger than the block I lived on.
Angela helped stir something inside of me and I knew this was the moment. The seed was planted and I wanted to share my thoughts on the aging experience, from my own point of view, and my gerontological lens.
I’ve got lots to say and have some pretty strong opinions on this topic (no surprise if you know me) and I get very passionate, maybe a little too excited about the topic of aging. That’s why I feel compelled to talk about life, healing the past, moving on with the present and growing older with all the gusto you can muster.
This is my wheelhouse. On this new journey I’m learning a lot about myself. I really thought I had unpacked every nook and cranny of my life but I’ve been fascinated by the memories forming in my mind.
Writing is good therapy; I highly recommend it. I hope this goes better than learning to play saxophone. On my thirty-ninth birthday I bought a saxophone because I wanted to be a musician. That didn’t last too long, but last year Pablo bought me a violin after I became obsessed with Lindsay Sterling. It’s on my list of things to learn, maybe next year.
One year I decided to wear hats. It takes a lot of courage to be a hat person and I embraced it with gusto and I’m still adding to my hat collection. A good hat beats a bad hair day anytime and so that’s just a bonus for a frizz head like me.
This year my birthday plans incudes a trip to the Cincinnati Zoo followed by dinner at one of my favorite restaurants, The Precinct. I might even get really crazy and swing by the Root beer Stand in Sharonville for lunch and grab a chili dog and frosty mug of their famous root beer.
I just baked my favorite coconut cake and will enjoy every delicious bite because there are no calories in birthday cake. Didn’t you know that?
All I want is a simple, quiet day with my favorite person in the world, Pablo. No expectations, no tears, or giant celebrations. Just another day in paradise. What more could a girl ask for?