So this is love. On turning 40.

Sol de Janiero Bum Bum cream, the birthday gift from Sephora that at 40 now seems most enticing, open on my computer screen. The end of summer’s 15% off from Follain; I watched the candle flames on the e-card from the dentist’s office, saying: “we are your dental team and we approve today’s cake. Keep smiling.” I watched each candle flicker like the 13 wishes mother didn’t allow me last Sunday–unable to blow on the mini vanilla cupcakes because of COVID-19. The man who cleans my teeth,  allowing me the sweet and candle flame atop each letter of Happy Birthday. It was my father telling me they’d cancelled brother’s airplane ticket back to California because they could without penalty, because he had a friend who called and provided wildfires’ warning, how friend might fly back East so they can work on music together like it could be allowed and unclandestine and easy; the strangeness of remembering  Big Sur aflame when I flew there in 2016, the spoken word poetry workshop and my need for ocean and rain. It was logging on to Facebook and seeing the Haitian woman who lives in my own apartment building had posted on my timeline: “Happy Birthday to one of the greatest people I know” only she wrote my first and someone else’s last name. It was the fear of turning on my phone and losing the grounding I’d gained after an hour and a half yoga practice in the living room first thing in the morning, re-entering both the morning and body gently at forty. It was the iPhone video from my nephew and niece–my sister counting “1, 2, 3” and then them saying in five and seven-year-old unison Happy Birthday Auntie Lindsey and then my nephew’s I’ll buy you some gravy and I still need to google what that means. Them both standing beneath the sky’s overcast grey and their precious vulnerability wondering if they’d expressed themselves emphatically, if they’d done a good enough job of wishing Happy Birthday. I too wondered this morning, if I’m doing this correctly. It was checking the mailbox in light blue bike helmut after my lunch picnic friend and I decided to do dinner instead because it suddenly was raining, after assuming my parents must have timed the arrival of a birthday card perfectly, and finding the mailbox empty. I suppose I’m still learning not to have to be given permission to celebrate the arrival at forty, to not have to worry about making sure I’m celebrating well enough, having enough fun so as not to waste any more time self-questioning.

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