It’s my birthday.

No, seriously, in all truth, it is. Today. Right now.

When I was very young I was kind of convinced that I would die at 37. Yes, it was that specific. I have no idea why. Nobody I knew had died at that age, and in fact by that stage in my life I don’t think I knew anyone who had died at all. So why I put a time limit on my own mortality, I have no idea.

I battled along for a while. I had my triumphs and my tragedies, at 15, at 16, at 21, at 24, at 26. I graduated from University with a Masters degree. I wrote and published books and stories and articles and reviews.

Somewhere along the line, I turned 30 – and I kind of remember that birthday, thinking that hey, I was some sort of grown-up now. And I didn’t mind so much, really.

I REALLY minded turning 35, for some reason. I couldn’t tell you why, it was as if that was some sort of turning point, before that I was young and after that… after that, I was not. Not any more. Nothing I did after that would ever have been done “by a prodigy”, or be an overnight success. I’d put in too many years into this living lark already.

But then I turned 36. And then that magic 37. And then… and then… I lived to turn 38.

By the time I turned 40, I was married… and my husband was in a convalescent home, on the date of my birthday that year, recovering from a major stroke. He had promised to throw me a major party on the day, complete with pink flamingoes and a skywriter pulling a banner announcing the BIG FOUR OH. I threatened him with divorce if he tried… and in the event he couldn’t have if he wanted to. We spent the day in the boardroom of the home, in the company of a couple of friends, eating a few slices of store-bought chocolate cake the shattered remains of which I left for the staff afterwards. And then my husband went back to his room and I went home alone.

It’s been seven years, since. With the usual ups and downs. Things went slowly, as though inching up the rollercoaster up-slope, and then fast, as if they had topped the curve and came hurtling around the far side. I can almost hear the screaming, if I listen hard.

But I’m sitting here tonight contemplating several new projects, and I am ten years older than the age at which I thought that I would shuffle off this mortal coil, and I’m still alive and passionate and full of dreams and ideas.

Roll on the half-century. Any day now. In the meantime, there are lots more stories waiting for me to write them, lots more places waiting for me to see them, lots more music coming to serenade me. I have plenty to do.

I’ll go snack on the cake. Then I’ll come back and roll up my sleeves and get back to work. Today really is the first day of the rest of my life, as the cliche has it, and I mean to make it count.

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  1. 1. SMD

    Well, happy birthday, then!

  2. 2. Joe Iriarte

    I know exactly what you mean about looking around and realizing you’ve gone from being a prodigy to . . . not. And sitting here at 38, having not quite shaken the Earth like I thought I would, it’s nice to hear there’s life after 37.

    Happy birthday!

  3. 3. Mary Brebner

    Wow–you know, I had the same deep-seated belief that I was going to die early. I didn’t think I’d make it to my 32nd birthday but I did. Number 39 is coming up in a few months!. My belief may have come from the numerous terrible asthma attacks I had as a kid (hospitals are no fun). So weird how we come to believe things so firmly, with little to no reason.

    Anyway, Happy Birthday! Have lots of cake and lots of fun!

  4. 4. Wolf Lahti

    Happy birth anniversary, youngster!

  5. 5. Terry

    When I was 17, my “wisdom teeth” came in, and for some reason, even though I was old enough to know better, my mind latched onto the old wives tale that one only lived twice the age of wisdom teeths’ emerging, and was convinced I would die at 34. Every birthday it nibbled at my ear a little, and by the time I was 33, I had a son and did not want to die, and didn’t *really* believe the old wives tale any more, but it kept nibbling back there, you know, until the day after my 34th birthday. I woke up, thought “How stupid!” and went on living. What a strange thing a brain is.

    Anyway – have the best birthday ever.

  6. 6. Helen Hall

    Happy birthday! I’m so glad that your precognitive skills turned out to be faulty. :)

  7. 7. Rabia

    I REALLY minded turning 35, for some reason. I couldn’t tell you why, it was as if that was some sort of turning point, before that I was young and after that… after that, I was not. Not any more. Nothing I did after that would ever have been done “by a prodigy”, or be an overnight success. I’d put in too many years into this living lark already.

    Ouch. At 30, I still feel like I’m on the young side, but I can really see myself feeling this way at 35 if I still haven’t accomplished my big writing goals (ie: getting a publisher to pay me for writing a novel *grin*).

    Happy birthday!

  8. 8. Mary

    Many happy returns of the day!

  9. 9. Alma Alexander

    Thanks, all!

  10. 10. Kelly McCullough

    Happy Birthday, Alma, hope it’s being a great one!

  11. 11. green_knight

    Have a very Happy Birthday! Good thing prophecy is only accurate in bad novels.

Author Information

Alma Alexander

Alma Alexander is a novelist, short story writer and anthologist whose books include High Fantasy ("Hidden Quen""Changer of Days"), historical fantasy ("Secrets of Jin Shei", "Embers of Heaven"), contemporary fantasy ("Midnight at Spanish gardens") and YA (the Worldweavers series, the Were Chronicles). She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and two cats. Visit site.

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