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Instead of staring full frontal at the date of my birthday this year, I crept up stealthily. By-passing the usual heap of expectations laden onto one day, I made sure there were a few dates of pleasure with myself. Act of indulgence number one:
Entering into a local supermarket, a bunch of sunflowers caught my eye, their yellow petals reaching towards my heart, with the promise of hope for the on-coming year. Now, usually this would be a forbidden act, to purchase such a symbol of luxury, I would silently tell myself to ‘wait until your birthday’. This is dangerous, if there have been too many secret promises to myself alongside an abundance of abstinence in the lead-up to the date, the lack of sunflowers would be a source of disappointment. So picking a bunch and beaming to myself at such an act of rebellion, I handed them to the woman behind the till. She turned the flowers over in her hands, (nails bitten, dry skin flaking against the cellophane) she sucked in her breath and announced to me, ‘three pounds fifty, these are. Are you o.k with that?’ I patiently explained that I was preparing myself for my birthday the following week, in order not to sink into a puddle of personal rejection, I was noticing myself and buying myself a bunch of flowers. Yes I was o.k with the three-pounds fifty.
The woman behind the counter made eye contact with me, her icy blue pupils staring at me. She confided in me that in was her birthday next week too and she was not looking forward to it, as her children did not live with her any more and she would be home alone. She had resigned herself to a week of nostalgia and past reflection, in which she had planned to wade in, getting deeper and deeper until the actual anniversary of her birth. A spur of the moment decision flashed across her face as she announced, she would call a couple of friends to go out to dinner with. Instantly the ice in her eyes melted and she smiled at me, handing me my flowers. ‘You enjoy them’ she instructed me. And I did.
One of the signs of passing youth is the birth of a sense of fellowship with other human beings as we take our place among them.