It’s a strange thing to celebrate a birthday on a national tragedy, but every year we do celebrate it, my family and I. We celebrate what I think of as another year in a small life. I don’t say “small” with a single drop of sadness. I say it filled with love and passion and ecstasy for the ordinary.
My wife bought me a record player, and I listened to my dad’s old vinyl. It brought back memories long ignored. I walked with my youngest to buy donuts for breakfast, stayed up late with my eldest to introduce them to one of my favorite movies (“Brick”). Now, with less than an hour left of my birthday, I will write and read a little.
Two decades ago the nation shared in a collective, waking nightmare, something so large, awful, and bleak no single person could conjure or bear it. 9/11 is a day that deserves solemnity and remembrance as a nation, but as individuals I hope we keep finding small things that weigh nothing but mean everything.
When we celebrate my birthday, on one hand it’s just a birthday. I’m another year older, my family shares in something sweet, we blow out candles. Ordinary rituals. On the other hand, when we celebrate my birthday, it’s an act of rebellious healing, a radical dream of insignificance on a day heavy with it.