I remember picking up who I thought was my best girlfriend in the whole world at the airport one time. This was in 1997, when times were still good. We were not 100 feet away from the gate, going merrily along, very happy to see one other and chatting up a storm about my friend’s new apartment that didn’t have a crafts room, but at least it didn’t have a husband either. Then my friend who I loved said to me, “Oh, that’s right—you’re not into crafts.”
It’s true that back then, when we were still young to our best friendness, certain major areas of interest outside of men, money and us weren’t really that important. We were probably making excited conversation as we hustled through the airport towards my car, hauling her bags, on our way to what would undoubtedly be, and was, a raucously good 29th birthday for me.
I would be the exact age my friend had been the year we met. I thought she was old then. Now she was a billion and 38, an unimaginably high number.
I looked at her, a beautiful sunny warm open brown-skinned absolute love of a woman, the woman who I would someday describe as the person I would have married if she’d had a penis, wearing an intricately beaded necklace around her neck in her favorite colors, which I knew were her favorite colors because I had asked before I made her the necklace and gave it to her last year.
Something must have clicked in my friend’s mind when we made eye contact, a snapping of her brain’s fingers at the same moment it recognized the look on my face as abhorrence, because she blurted out, “Oh my God! You made this necklace I’m wearing!”
“I can’t believe I forgot that! You are crafty! What was I thinking?” she said. “You know, I wear this necklace all the time with everything, and it’s such a part of me, I forgot I got it from you.”
That’s the kind of apology I like. Just because my choice of crafts differed from her choice didn’t make me less-than. She spent the whole long weekend wearing the necklace I’d made for her, and I loved seeing it around her tanned neck. That adds up to another reason I would have married her, if she had been male.
Today, I am three times fifteen—quite the handful. I can only imagine what I’ll be like when I’m three times seventeen; just one of my seventeens almost ruined a lot of young men, back when times were even better, and nothing was yet my fault.
Eighteen was the year that the interesting presents started to appear. That year, I got $1000 from my Grandma Liz, who had actually passed away a few months before. All of the older kids had received $1000 from her when they turned eighteen, so my mom made sure it happened for me, too. I remember sitting in the living room saying, “Thank you, Grandma!” into the camera, holding up two $500 bills. It was a hot, humid May afternoon in rural Pennsylvania and I felt slimy, which only added to the creepiness of the missing giver of my thousand dollars.
When I turned thirty, I went to the airport to pick up my parents, who had flown into Phoenix from Minnesota to celebrate with me, and was surprised to turn my head and see one of my sisters sitting in the airport bar. “Hey!” she called out. Just then, I turned to look back towards the gate to see not only my mom and my dad emerging but two more sisters, and my brother too. I was surprised they hadn’t dug up our old dog, Sox, and had him stuffed for the occasion.
A family reunion on my 30th birthday, with all of us in the same vehicle for the first time in twenty years—now able to make noise without risk of our father pulling over to spank us. The last time we had all been in the same vehicle, it was in a Winnebago for two weeks, which at ten I had loved, but the older kids, all in their late teens, somehow had not. This time we were all packed into a van-cab going to my favorite sushi restaurant, because after all it was MY birthday and I got to pick the place. That was always the rule.
I cannot recommend taking your entire family fresh from Minnesota, filling them with alcohol, then bringing them to a restaurant where they won’t eat the food because it’s raw. Can anybody say herring!? What about the raw hamburger sandwiches with onion and pepper? What about the ham mousse? Y’all ate that but you won’t eat a tasty morsel of fresh salmon? Stop flipping me off! Quit it…before Mother sees you, I sneered in my brain.
The next year I got a kitten.
Then there was the era of the giftless marriage, and then my 40th was very nice, spent with my boyfriend at the time, the one with the porn-star hair. He and his five children under the age of ten just showed up in my life (and on many other occasions) at the wrong time.
Today I am 45, and I find myself wanting a sewing machine. Why do I suddenly want one of those? From whence cameth this desire to make little purses out of old jeans for little girls, and crafty little birdfeeders to outsmart the pigeons, with a holey sock to hold the seed. My craftiness is back.
And Super-Sexy, he’s back too; he came for my birthday. That’s right.
Super-Sexy is only three times thirteen, so he needs close supervision and a some guidance now and then, which I’m more than happy to provide. In fact, I can hear him calling now for me to come back inside the house. He’s not going to like what he sees. I’m so extraordinarily happy all over my body, inside and out, that I came outside to pinch myself. However, we Mohlers don’t do that when we check to see if it’s real.
We bite our tongues in half.