Last year on February 13, I turned 60—a milestone, some people might say. On my fiftieth birthday, I was in the grips of anorexia and my brother threw me a party at Peter Kelly’s restaurant Xavier on the Hudson, with scenic views of the Hudson River and the then-named Tappan Zee Bridge. Chunks of ice were floating in the river and I was surrounded by my closest family and friends. Unfortunately, obsessed with my weight and my body, I was unable to relax and enjoy the event fully. If I recall, I even unintentionally threw up a couple of times, just from the stress of keeping my secret.
Ten years later, we were in the midst of a pandemic. Creatively, I found a cupcake company with innovative flavors that shipped all over the country. In addition to carrot and red velvet, they had cupcakes infused with cognac and Jack Daniels, and others flavored with tiramisu and strawberry daiquiri. I drew up the guest list, obtained their preferred cupcake flavors, had them shipped out, and on the appointed night we all gathered on Zoom. My family — including cousins from Baton Rouge and Florida — and friends sang "Happy Birthday," I blew out my candle, and we crammed our cupcakes into our mouths.
The next morning was a Sunday. I took my rescue dog, Shelby, for our usual 6 AM stroll and at the halfway point of our loop, I slipped on black ice on the sidewalk in front of someone’s house and went down. Hard. As soon as I hit the pavement, I knew I had broken my wrist. It hurt. A lot. I tried to get up, but I couldn’t. I was dizzy. Shelby was wandering off down the block and I had to keep calling her to come back to me. Luckily, I had my cell phone with me and I called 911, but I didn’t have my glasses on and could only vaguely describe where I was. Regardless they found me and the EMT’s were super nice. They noticed I was bleeding, which meant the bone had pierced the skin. A police officer showed up and he took Shelby back to my apartment, getting the keys from the doorman. I went to the hospital where an x-ray confirmed I had broken both bones in my wrist and would need immediate surgery. I would also need to stay in the hospital overnight to receive IV antibiotics.
What a lousy follow-up to a sixtieth birthday. I guess it was a reminder that I was getting old. I have osteoporosis from my prolonged struggle with anorexia and had just started receiving treatment for it in the form of a once-a-year infusion, but I guess even that was no match for the impact of my wrist hitting the icy sidewalk. Healing proved to be a challenge. I needed another surgery, then intensive physical therapy. One of the broken bones damaged a nerve, so I have permanent nerve damage in my index finger, which means that the finger feels numb all the time. And cold. At least it was my left wrist, my non-dominant hand.
Last night my brother texted me and asked me what I wanted this year for my birthday, which happens to be on the same day as the Super Bowl.
I have no illusions about doing anything on the actual day of my birthday. I’m playing it safe this year. I told him I just wanted to have a quiet dinner with him, my sister-in-law, and my niece.
Sixty-one is an odd number, anyway.