Each year, I think of life on my own birthday, of age at my friends’ and of love on my husband’s. But there are three days in a year when I am filled with memories, hopes, and dreams. Those are November 8, May 31 and February 11, the three wonderful days when I received the gift of a new life.
Looking back, I realize how selfishly I had celebrated each of my children’s birthdays as my own special day. While I ordered their favorite cake and sent out invitations, I focused on what I thought was the best of the best. Yes, the clowns, magicians and even that guitar-playing-silly-song-singing woman were those they had enjoyed at other parties and yes, the guests were their friends and classmates. But the party had always been mine.
For weeks I fussed over selecting the perfect card, ordering that Cabbage-patch-kid, Hello Kitty, or Ninja Turtle cake. I bought half the merchandize at Party City to decorate the house. I slaved over sewing the ruffled dresses the girls now mock and somehow managed to find the biggest Piñatas in Chicago. I took picture after picture to preserve the memory.
Now decades later, there are no more birthday parties around my house as young adults arrange their own gatherings. I page through old albums just to realize they are much more my memories than theirs. My kids look at those pictures and are embarrassed by the old-fashioned clothes their mom put on them, the stack of gifts are long forgotten and they have lost touch with most of those kids.
I close my eyes and hear the high pitch laughter, the tiny footsteps running up and down the stairs and their special song. “Once you were small and now you are big, now you are big, I’ll sing you a birthday song!” I push back the tears and can still taste the excessive frosting on their cake. There’s no longer a need for elaborate parties to remind me of my three priceless gifts.
There are many good reasons why I have not written a blog in a while., the best of which is my book and the activities surrounding it. Did I forget about my readers and friends? Of course not! Not only did I miss writing something new, but I also spent most of my days and nights on revising/editing another novel for them! The good news is that the novel is almost ready. And the bad news? As I neglected the marketing stuff for Sky of Red Poppies, book sales plummeted. Of course the economy in Greece has a lot to do with that. Then again, maybe I should be grateful to that country for giving me something to blame my own shortcomings on.
Books are in many ways like your children. It isn’t just a matter of conceiving and giving birth. The real work comes later. The minute you turn your head or neglect them, they get into all sorts of trouble. No need to explain why I’m dragging my feet about publishing The Moon Daughter. It’s just like having another kid. I want the Poppies “out of diaper” before having another. Also, with two books out, I shall need a “book sitter” who will share some of the responsibility so I can sleep at night or go out and have fun sometime! So if you’re a publisher out there waiting for that Greatest American Novel, by all means feel free to respond to this ad and apply for the job. And no, don’t worry, I have an agent, too. And if you’re a friend, a reader or a fan, please don’t give up on me just yet
Life is a series of choices. Each and every day we can make a choice to make the day a positive one or to let it go to waste. On my birthday last week, I chose to be extremely happy despite missing my extended family. Each year it makes me sad to realize I am totally cut off from my past. I remember a time when birthdays meant having my friends over, serving tiny open sandwiches and dancing to 45′s of Paul Anka and Brenda Lee or doing “The Twist!”! Gift selection was easy. Boroumand bookstore on Mashad’s Pahlavi Avenue knew what I wanted for I had invented the “wish list” way back then!
Four decades later, most of those books are still sitting on my bookshelf. I open them one by one and read the inscriptions. “To my best friend in the world!” or “To Zohreh, the best friend one could ever have.” Their young faces parade before me and I wonder where they are today. Last night, as I re-read a book of poetry given to me by a “best friend” I haven’t seen in over forty years, I sent good vibes and silent thanks to all the good people whom I may never see again. Who knows? They may remember me, too!