My parents were torn whether to send a birthday card this year with it being their son’s first birthday in prison. They weren’t sure if a card was appropriate or if receiving one would only make me more depressed. In the end, they opted against it.
I didn’t mind, really. I myself don’t often send cards because I’m awful at remembering dates. The only family member’s birthday I can remember is my father’s because it happens to fall within the same month as mine.
Even if they had chosen to send a card, I can’t imagine what the message inside would say. It’s not like Hallmark carries a line of cards for incarcerated birthdays.
More importantly, my parents will be visiting me for the first time tomorrow, and that itself is better than a card and a birthday wish come true.
This year’s celebration was obviously more subdued than past birthdays, not that I was ever much of a party goer. I’ve always valued the ability to be easily and cheaply entertained; my idea of a good time is a seven-layer dip and a game of Monopoly. There was, however, one particularly memorable birthday where I threw a party for the first time.
It was the year I turned 22–a milestone for me. I had just graduated college and moved into my first apartment, a trendy, historical loft overlooking downtown. I thought I was hot shit. I had a career, responsibilities, bills, a lease–I was officially an adult.
So in celebration of adulthood, I decided to throw a party on the roof of my apartment building. I invited all of my friends, and they invited all of their friends, and there was beer and wine, and I made a pitcher of margaritas and a seven-layer dip (because it’s not a party without dip). I don’t know if it was the city lights or the high altitude or the booze, but I, always considered the introvert amongst my circle of friends, was suddenly the life of the party.
I discovered later that the shot glass my father gave me as a house warming gift was actually a two-ouncer and not a one as I had believed. That explains why the margaritas were so wickedly strong. It also explains how I ended up in bed with my best friend that night.
Five months later, the FBI showed up at my office, and my ivory tower crumbled into a heap of dust.
This birthday, my 25th birthday, while nowhere near as exciting or scandalous, is still a milestone if only for the fact that it’s my first birthday in prison. There was no seven-layer dip or pitcher of margaritas. Instead, my Jewish cell mate gave me a small canister of chocolate macaroons he had saved from the past Passover.
That night after the 10 P.M. lock down, we sat in our bunks and ate the macaroons feeling sorry for ourselves.