Oil by Delilah Smith It’s my birthday.
The day of your birthday
Birthdays have always been one of the most awkward and hard-to-get situations for me. I’ve had this feeling as if there were some sort of detail about them that I haven’t grasped to be able to enjoy them. I’ve lived all these years thinking that there’s something special I should feel that I don’t, and as if there were an attitude which the rest are supposed to see in me. Something I fail to be up to the expectation. I’m sure I’m not the only one.
They are ideas and feelings that allow us to live a perfectly conventional life without much trouble, but they remain, notorious, clinged to our souls as coffee dregs to the bottom of a cup.
When I read Eleven, Sandra Cisneros’ insightful story, a feeling of satisfaction filled my heart, not out of birthdays, but out of the existence of literary works that can shed lights, shake cores or celebrate where there’s hardly any joy to do it. This brief story that is told through a girl on her eleventh birthday, is simply marvelous, because of -among other things- its perspective and because of the naivety of its humor.
I share here only the beginning:
“What they don’t understand about birthdays and what they never tell you is that when you’re eleven, you’re also ten, and nine, and eight, and seven, and six, and five, and four, and three, and two, and one. And when you wake up on your eleventh birthday you expect to feel eleven, but you don’t. You open your eyes and everything’s just like yesterday, only it’s today. And you don’t feel eleven at all. You feel like you’re still ten. And you are—underneath the year that makes you eleven.
Like some days you might say something stupid, and that’s the part of you that’s still ten. Or maybe some days you might need to sit on your mama’s lap because you’re scared, and that’s the part of you that’s ve. And maybe one day when you’re all grown up maybe you will need to cry like if you’re three, and that’s okay.”
Eleven first appeared in Woman Hollering Creek and other stories
Here’s the complete story. If you haven’t read it yet, please do. You’ll treasure it.
And here’s Eleven read by her own writer. A jewel.
The prolific Japanese writer Haruki Murakami selected a few years ago, stories from other writers about birthdays in the book Birthday Stories in which he includes one of his own.
Birthday Girl by Murakami is a story with a touch of mystery in it about the classic wish we make at our supposedly special day.
Although the main character, a young waitress from a popular restaurant in Tokyo has asked for the night of her twentieth birthday off, she has to take over her partner’s shift who has fallen ill. However, that same night, she finds herself in an unusual situation where somebody she sees for that first and single time, promises to make true her twentieth birthday dream.
When this same girl, describes that situation to a friend many years later, when her life was completely different, the reader is able to grasp the relevance that it had for her. Even though we as readers are not told the wish she made or if it was finally granted, there is a profound reflection out of this experience which may reveal certain clues about the nature of what we wish for.
Here is the character talking to her insistent-for-detail friend about that wish:
“What I’m trying to tell you is this,” she said more softly, scratching an earlobe. It was a beautifully shaped earlobe. “No matter what they wish for, no matter how far they go, people can never be anything but themselves. That’s all.”
Murakami deals masterfully with a seriously “mythical” theme casting an even more powerful spell on it.
I truly wish you insightful connections, especially on these topics that we give many times for granted. Seeing them from a different angle is a deep, fresh breath for our souls and minds.