Look, Ma! I’m Molting!

Yesterday was my birthday. Let me tell you something great about birthdays. You get sweet gestures from your son that look like this. IMG_1354

You get flowers from your dad that look like this.IMG_1358

Along with a sign from both of your parents who just know.IMGP2784

A pre-ordered DVD from a sister who understands your love of a story about people “wasting the most poignant moments of night and life.”images-3

You get a fish named Spike from your kids.IMGP2779

You get a banjo from the greatest husband in the world. IMG_1339

And you are betrayed by the local radio stations. The oldies station is playing Billy Joel, and the classic rock station is playing Pearl Jam.  You always knew time would march on, but you did not expect it to march away with your music. It is a betrayal of the kind that leaves a soul staggering and unwittingly doing math in her car on the way home. (When was this song released? How old were the songs on the oldies station when I was growing up? gasp. Yup. That’s about right.)

I understand there is a relation between music and math, but let me be clear— this should not be it.

Lately I have been feeling this all-too-new feeling of being comfortable in my own skin. I have never felt this before. It’s like I finally figured out I’m okay. I have feet and I am going to stand on them; I have words and I am going to write them down, for Pete’s sake. I spent much time when I was younger holding my breath. There were swarms of psychological gnats that had to be swatted in the forms of depression and social anxiety that kept me from even coming close to “forming” in those formative years of which everyone speaks so fondly. I swatted and watched and wondered when I would finally feel like a grown-up, despite the fact that I was married and had kids.

I went to the mall yesterday in search of some fresh clothes to cover this freshly molted form, and again, I was at a loss. Ready to allow my inner rock star to breach the boundary to the outside, I was disappointed at what I found. Most pictures in magazines look like what’s left on laundry day, and the store racks don’t look any different. The patterns on the material can be fun and whimsical, but everything appears to be cut and sewn by three-year-old monkeys. Curious if the fashion industry is taking part in a world-wide scientific study (Will they really wear whatever we put in the stores?) I didn’t even take that many things into the fitting room to try on. Sorry, Inner Alli, Outer Alli will have to be a bit boring until these clothes manufacturers untwist their lederhosen.

Ah. But that is what’s great about birthdays: incrementally shedding the intense desire to be defined— by music, by clothes, by creeds, by cars— and learning to love out loud what you have always loved down deep inside, without banners, or tattoos, or even a nod of approval from someone on the “inside.”

Because it’s not a birthday without a little rock’n’roll.

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