It is inevitable, a realisation on ones birthday or the day after, that the most exciting part of this occasion is when the best-before date on milk is the same date you become one year older. The day itself is usually a disappointment and frankly, at my age, is just to be ignored. I worked today for example, even though it’s my birthday. Most people do. The real tragedy is in the fact that it’s a bank holiday as well, so I should have been in a beer-assisted sleep.
I am beginning to believe that birthdays are for people old enough to be rightly nostalgic. Grey men trying to pawn their daughters to local money or the woman who did everything her mother told her to, and continued to even after her mother died. A birthday for them is the right to recount those years when life was still scary and still held the possibility you could become more than your parents, more than you inevitably did, a person bred to be ignored.
For me, right now, this day is about ghosts. I sense them in my peripheral vision, white flashes in doorways. I feel them touch my hands lightly, and my face, with the delicacy of a spider, disturbing the short, fine hair on my cheeks. They tease with their presence, never letting me see them directly, never poking or shouting ‘I’m here’. I am not frightened by them but distracted and I cannot focus on what I’m writing. Subtly deviant, they become naughtier as the night wears in and I can only wonder if they will be here next year.