Birthdays


A dream I had recently:

(I know dreams seem irrelevant, even in my own life where my thoughts are vested most, I don’t really know why I should care about my dreams, but just stick with me because it will all come together.)

It was in a room maybe, I could see the corner where two walls met, and I could see Debby, but her face was kind of obscured, and I could sort of see myself because I hopped in and out of first and third person.

"What I remember vividly about us is that my boyfriend at the time introduced me to you." she said.

"Do you remember the thing with the answering machine. We had some weirdness where I was getting a little clingy, and you changed your outgoing message to a guy named Al saying he will be in Bangladesh until the Second Coming."

"I remember that too. And we had the same birthday, that I'll never forget. What's blurry for you?"

"I have a few of those false memories, the ones you go over again and again until they are mostly non-truths, like how we started dating in the first place. I think I remember a party we were at together."

"Yeah that's the first time I really ever met you, I was still with that boyfriend."

"And then the next day we ran into each other on the street and did a bunch of errands together, I bought a new shirt, you had to return a camera at Sears. It was something I never do, I'm so goal oriented most of the time that I almost never have room for surprises like that."

"You had to stop off at the studio at the end of the day, I didn't have to do anything, so I joined you."

"Do you remember the lady who we would see every day walking in Boston Common, she looked so pregnant for so long, and then one day she wasn't and we never saw a baby?"

"Do you remember the guy who sold crack for a while, and then one day he bought a moving truck with his crack money and started his own moving business?"

"Do you remember that song "Higher Love" by Steve Winwood? I never liked that song, but it was so ubiquitous that summer that we started singing along to it."

"What is most hazy are my intentions at the time, I can remember kissing you for the first time, but not where the bravery came from. I remember wanting so much have sex, like a log wants to much to go over a waterfall, but I don’t know if I remember the first time we did have sex."


I hadn’t thought about Debby for a long time before that dream. I'm dating a women who is very much into astrology and birthdays and signs. Me and Debby had the same birthday, and according to Julie, the woman I’m dating, that can be a bad thing a lot of the time. Too much fire and not enough water, or vice versa. For most of my life I've had fleeting thoughts about astrology every few months. Me and Bruce Willis have the same birthday, and Philip Roth. Would we all get along if we were in the same room? Do we create similar works of art? Are our end goals the same? I tried to read "Everyman" one time, but never finished. Or maybe it was the audiobook. That seems like something Bruce Willis would do.


One thing that I give Julie’s astrology that might make empirical sense is how we experienced your first year of life, maybe. Being born in the spring Debby and I could have had some sort of unfurling throughout the summer. Debby told me that she remembers having her diaper changed in a park when she was a baby. I never believed her but she would always say that she remembered the pine needles sticking to her butt, and the warmth from the sun coming through the trees and warming her legs. Maybe I felt those things too, like the world was a place to play, and then my consciousness of time and temperature kicked with the winter, and I got the sun pulled out from over me. We were alike in that way, sceptical of a good thing, reassuring ourselves on the first sign of a cool breeze.


I came around the corner of Julie’s street and was en-heartened to see that the big tree in front of her apartment building was starting to get some leaf sprouts on it. Spring was starting early this March, It was going to be me and Deb’s birthday before I knew it. Julie wasn’t home from work yet, but she gave me a key so I went up and started making dinner for us. While the rice was cooking I took a walk around the apartment, realizing that I had never been there alone before. I looked at the titles of the books that I sometimes stared at while Julie and I watched movies. I opened her jewelry box on her bureau, not suspiciously, she had opened it up a hundred times in front of me, but I was curious to see everything without her holding it. Underneath the earring tree on the bureau there was a small folder, like a half sized manila envelope. I felt like it was crossing the line of privacy to open it, but boredom is the mischief in me, and the rice was another 30 minutes. I carefully lifted the earring tree from the bottom and put it on the floor. I then opened up the little manila envelope and noticed as I did that it had my name written on the tab. Inside was just one small piece of paper with a paragraph and one additional sentence. It was typed, not from a computer, but because of the ink I could tell it was made with a typewriter that I didn’t know she owned.


The paper said:


“He’s overly concerned with salvation, spirits, etc. He has a constant inclination to weep. Is aimless, hurried, and is disposed to curse and think obscene things. He is anxious about incurable diseases. He’s hot, dull, and heavy, with a wild feeling in his head. He’ll faint in a warm room. He’s hungry and longs for meat.


He has a gun and he keeps it hidden.”


I didn’t know what to think about this paper. I needed a glass of water. I still didn’t know by heart which cabinet the glasses were in. We had talked about moving my things into her place in a few months and I still didn’t know where the glasses were! And now this? The water tasted different and I wonder if it has a different mix of minerals than the water at my apartment. I started to wonder if that kind of stuff affects my personality? Do people get soft with soft water? I need to make jokes like that when I’m very stressed out. Is that why Julie is so different than me, more lethargic and self obsessed, because of the water quality? Ghosts too, I thought about that recently, and feared that maybe some sort of spirit presence in her apartment will alter my life in weird ways. This strip of Boston apartments is so old all of them must be haunted.


But these thoughts weren’t mine, I’d started thinking this way ever since I’ve dated Julie; ghosts, cosmic rationals, etc. She has a lot of new age habits that are interesting, but also keep me from ever feeling comfortable. And this paper, I didn’t know what to think about that. “A constant inclination to weep”? That certainly didn’t describe me. I don’t know the last time I cried, especially in front of her. She might not be the woman I thought I knew. I needed to find myself again, get back to who I really was. And since Debby was born on the same day as me, there was some logic to thinking that she had my kind of personality, my real personality, and she could bring me back to the fold. So I left Julie’s apartment in a hurry and headed downtown towards Debby’s apartment.


Debby and I met when I was visiting the quad cities. She was an heiress to a Chianti fortune from out there. I was grabbing lunch at a diner after having driven 400 miles. she sat next to me at the bar and asked for a tilapia po’ boy. I got something open faced. That was the trip I was wondering what my station in life was.

“I like KXOP,” Debby said between bites

“Oh I meant like purpose, more,” I said.

“Yeah, your purpose, as far as the radio goes is to listen to KXOP. They guarantee one Hank Williams song every hour.”

“Well I’ll check that out. Thank you. My name is Kyle by the way.”

“Mine is Debby. Look at that, KD. If we ever have a kid we have to name it Katie.”

“Look at that.”


Debby was home when I called, she called out of work that day because she didn’t feel right. I got to her door and she opened it before I could even knock.

“What do you think about natural laws and stuff,” she started right out. “I mean the main thing I’m thinking about right now is why do they stay the same. Like gravity and magnetism, why doesn’t it change and become weaker or stronger?” She was running back to her kitchen to take the macaroni off the oven and pour them into the colander in the sink.

“I know what you mean,” and I did, I was thinking about that the other day and did a little Googling to see what I could find. We were like that, we were almost always into the same type of music at the same time, or thinking about the same type of thing. In science they call that quantum entanglement. “I read something about how they found a spot in space where the speed of light was a different speed than anywhere else.”

“Did they really,” Debby said, abandoning her macaroni and coming to the couch to get a closer listen. “What did they say that meant?”

“They didn’t say anything further. You know how scientists are, they never want to have fun and really speculate on stuff like that.”

“Bunch of assholes.” Debby said and went back to the kitchen.

When Debby was done straining the macaroni and brought it over in two bowls for us I asked her if we could talk about Julie for a sec.

“Yeah no problem, were you scared to ask me about that?”

“I was a little scared yeah, I mean you know the whole ex-girlfriend/current girlfriend weirdness. Plus I haven’t seen you in so long I don’t know what kind of friendship we have.”

“Well enough, what’s going on? Juicy stuff? Sexy stuff?”

“Uh, weird stuff. Today I was in her apartment getting stuff ready for dinner for when she got home from work when I found an envelope with my name on it.”

“You didn’t look did you? A girl’s shit is her own.”

“I looked, I had to. I don’t know why.”

“What did it say?”

“It said crazy stuff, like that I constantly have a need to weep, and that I long for meats. Like stuff that is completely not true and seems like it was written by a mental patient.”

“Maybe it was just like poetry or something.”

“But then a few blank lines below that paragraph was a sentence that just said, ‘He has a gun and he keeps it hidden.’ What’s that about? I mean, I think that’s the part that scared me the most. What if it’s some CIA shit or something.”

“What if she’s an alien?”

“I’m kind of not kidding, what if she is?”

“I’d be scared too, your not such a puss.”

“Thanks. But you know what else I thought about. I thought about how boring I’ve become. Like all those things on the paper were lies or whatever, but what could you really say about me anymore? I used to take dumps outside and stuff like that. I don’t think I do anything anymore.”

“Do you remember that time at my friend Megan’s birthday when you got super drunk?”

“Barely”

“Well I do. I remember you were nervous to go to the party because you really didn’t know anybody and you were also really tired, so you had a beer and were taking shots right before we got into the car to rally yourself back. I think you were already drunk before we even got to the party, and you had to pee really bad. So anyway right when we got to Megan’s house you booked it into some woods between her house and her neighbors to go pee. So I kind of ignore you because Megan is right out front yelling ‘hey girl!’ and I wanted to distract her from your embarrassment. Me and Megan go inside so she can fix me a drink and I kind of forget about you for a little bit, because there are so many people at the party I haven’t seen in a while.

“So you must have been asleep in the bushes or something, because you were out there for like an hour. I was in the kitchen playing beer pong with some friends from college when I heard you screaming from the backyard, coming up to the backdoor you looked so drunk and awake. ‘Hey I’m Kyle!’ you yelled at all the people playing beer pong with me. I invited you to play and you threw one round for me and then wandered off to the living room where you got Megan’s karaoke machine working and started singing ‘Islands in the Stream’ with a girl I had an English lit class with once. You promised that we could do ‘Brown Eyed Girl” but you fell asleep with Megan’s dog on your lap before we could.

“I was thinking about that the other day. Someone could write that about you. ‘Enjoys a drink, but is quite sleepy most of the time.”

“True. I guess I really put that ‘What have I done for me lately’ kind of pressure on myself a lot is all. Thanks for the cheer up.”


I couldn’t get in contact with Julie at all that week. I called her but it went straight to voicemail, and I didn’t know what to say so I never left one. I sent her texts but all I got back was strange cryptic messages like “The Kidneys are where we keep our secrets, good and bad.” and “You’ve got blood on your hands, even if you don’t.” My birthday was only two days away and I didn’t know what to do. I had wanted to spend it with Julie, but instead I started preparing my brain for the inevitable loneliness. Maybe I’d call Debby, I don’t know, I still wanted to hold out hope for Julie.


Debby called me two days later, on our birthday, and said that we had to meet at this new bar in Cambridge where there are only old Mexican men and young Indian girls. “It’s insane, I don’t know if it’s a joke or some weird thing that makes sense,” she said. She made no mention of my birthday, or hers, and at first I was a little hurt, but I reminded myself that I’d prepared for No Birthday. And then my mind started to wander towards thoughts of maybe getting back together with Debby. I couldn’t at the moment remember exactly why we broke up. We had problems, but those are fixable, I know that now. I don’t know, just a thought.


I got to Cambridge, on the street where the bar was supposed to be, but I couldn’t find it anywhere and didn’t remember the number she told me, so I called Debby up.

“What do you think about this,” she started. “What if a person were made out of the same stuff that you and I are made of, but they just came about, like in a pile of trash or something. Like all the parts were there to make those super early baby cells that are in preggers, but instead of a dude cumming on some eggs, the DNA just happened to come about from nothing or whatever, and also maybe in a place that was perfect so they can survive. Do you think a human can just pop up, not born from anyone?”

“I feel like there are a lot of things that would have to be perfect...” I started to say.

“Yeah but if possibilities are endless it has to happen once right?”

“Yeah I guess so.”

“So where the fuck are you?”

“Where the fuck are you, I can’t find this bar.”

“I’m just kidding I see you, just go across the street and down towards MIT a little more. It’s an inconspicuous door, but it has the number 319 on top.”

“OK, I’ll see you in a sec.”

I started towards where I think she was directing me. I liked Debby and I don’t think being similar is such a bad thing sometimes. Maybe I’ll try to get back together with her, at least try to get a birthday kiss from her tonight, and give her one too. I don’t know, this whole thing with Julie is so weird, I can’t shake it. I think I’m just too nice of a guy and should let her go, like she’s probably already let me go. I think I found the place, it looked like someplace that’s still under construction, but I opened the door anyway and saw Julie and Debby and all my friends standing around in a semi circle with drinks and hats.


“Surprise!”