If good things come to those who wait, then I’m in for a treat: 29 February is my birthday and I’ve waited four long years for it. And it’s a Saturday.
Yet, as I write, I have no plans in place. My mind is gridlocked with possibilities and the debt I feel to family and friends who have kept their calendars clear. I don’t know how to meet everyone’s expectations.
In my family, birthdays are sacred as something we do together (rare) while forcing ourselves not to argue (a miracle). But my leap-year birthday means I usually split the event between a family party and celebrations with friends between 28 February and 1 March. It works because, like many British Asian children, I live a double life – hiding my more hedonistic and liberal side from much of my family (mainly to keep the elders from having a heart attack).
So while the easiest solution would be to do something with friends and family, it’s a bad idea; the thought of Auntie B meeting my first boyfriend, who is now a polyamorist who calls himself a “cannabinoid artist”, is a therapy session waiting to happen.
I know, it’s my birthday and I should do what I want, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that occasion days serve a collective purpose. Even a wedding delivers something (hope, excitement, a financial investment) for the couple’s friends and family, too.
My estimate is that your special day is 70% yours and 30% everyone else’s. So this year, who do I please? In leap years, I am eight: perhaps throwing a tantrum and getting someone to buy me a McDonald’s would be fitting. I can think of worse ways to celebrate.