age 24: I ran the Fayetteville 10K race with a sign pinned to my back that read "Today is my birthday!" People who passed me wished me a good day or asked me how old I was. All my friends were out of town, at least for the morning; Katie came back later and took me to Sylvan Beach, the old amusement park in Canastota where you could ride dark house rides and play old midway games like Fascination. And we took a photobooth photo which still hangs on my office wall.
age 5: I received my first bike: pink frame, white tires, white streamers erupting from the handlebars. I called it Pink Lightning. In a photo taken that day I am beaming as I ride it through the hallway of our Baltimore rowhome. A year later I learned to ride without training wheels in the cul-de-sac of the trailer park where we briefly lived. (Yes, really). Who can forget that moment when the wobbles suddenly, like magic, turn to balance? A moment of triumph that we get just once in our lives, that we never unlearn.
age 25: on a trip to Buffalo to visit my old-fashioned pen-pal (who turned boyfriend that weekend); on my birthday we sat on the pier overlooking Lake Ontario and ate hot dogs and ice cream. Afterwards we hiked through the woods to eternal flame falls, though he kept the flame itself a surprise. I thought we were just on a nice hike. it was a sweet, simple day.
30 days until my birthday. I have my free ticket to Disneyland, and a plane ticket, and plans to see my sister, along with Cristina at her home in Santa Barbara. And MICKEY MOUSE, of course. I plan on eating popsicles for breakfast. And wearing a crown all day.