I have two birthdays this week. No, I wasn’t born twice nor was my birth certificate wrong, and I don’t know which day I was born. I have my bellybutton birthday tomorrow, and the next day is my sobriety birthday. It’s no accident that my sobriety birthday falls the day after my regular birthday. I did not use alcohol for about 16 years, and I relapsed for exactly one year – from one bellybutton birthday to another – during my ill-fated second marriage. I just couldn’t stand the pain, so I said, “F**k it….I’m drinking”. It wasn’t exactly the best move of my life, but it is what it is. I’ll be celebrating 8 years of clean time this Wednesday.
I really love birthdays. I always have. I know I’m going to be 52 tomorrow, and the numbers aren’t exactly complimentary. But, at least I’m here, and I’m still celebrating each year I’ve been walking around. My birthday is on the same day that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was born. The Super Bowl at times has fallen on my birthday. It’s always fallen exactly two weeks from New Year’s Day – on the same day of the week. I always loved that because it extended the holidays for another two weeks for me. When everybody else is having to “get back to it” and deal with life as normal again, I still have another celebration coming around the corner.
I view birthdays as a time to celebrate the fact that I’m here, and that I’ve made a difference. Sometimes the difference may not be that positive, but I’ve definitely made an impact. Some years I choose to celebrate by taking the day off, getting dressed in my favorite “looking good” outfit and doing something fun. Several years I’ve gone to Hot Springs AR to indulge in shopping and spa treatments. I love doing that because I love the winter and the mountains. Hot Springs is quaint. It’s also the weekend that the horse races start up again in that town at Oaklawn. They price all the food and drinks on Opening Day the same as they were the day the track opened. You can get sandwiches for 35 cents! The county fair manager’s professional conference is always held that weekend at the Arlington. The elevator doors open, and the smell of funnel cakes and corn dogs waft in along with the big-bellied fair managers and their Dolly Parton look-alike wives. On my fiftieth birthday, my friend Alayne and I met in Hot Springs and we partied all night with an up and coming country musician and his manager who were auditioning at the county fair conference. It was fun. In Hot Springs, my friend and I were the hottest things in town.
My favorite birthday cake is a Dobash Cake from Baum’s Fine Pastries in Baton Rouge. If I’m home, Momma always gets it for me. I can never decide if I like chocolate or lemon best, so she gets a half and half version. It’s this wonderful cake with thin layers of butter cake interspersed with custard filling and coated in French Fondant. OMG…is it good! I probably won’t have one this year, but one of my favorite people took me to the Cheesecake Corner in Memphis last night for a piece of Peanut Butter Chocolate Cheesecake. It was a pretty good replacement.
This year, I’m going to do what I did last year. I’m not going to plan anything. Whatever happens, happens. A good friend of mine surprised me by coming for a visit this past weekend. It was fun. If that’s all I do, that’s good enough. I also got a box of Penzey’s Hot Chocolate Mix and a couple of cute mugs to go with it. Yummy….perfect for the cold weather. I’ll celebrate both birthdays together because that’s just silly to have separate ones. But, I certainly don’t take for granted by sobriety birthday. I may have been born on my bellybutton birthday but I was born anew on my sobriety birthday. One celebration wouldn’t be possible without the other.
I’ll have to think of my story tonight as I go to bed. This is what happened. My parents went to the LSU vs. University of Tennessee basketball game at LSU. My Dad was a sportswriter, so he was covering it for the newspaper as a young journalist. He was a student at Southwest Mississippi Junior College in Summit MS, but they came home to Baton Rouge to have me. A little after midnight Momma’s water broke. I was their first child, so this was all new. Daddy rushed her to the Baton Rouge General Hospital. Momma looked at him and said, “We have to go to the Lady of the Lake.” That was the first misstep. These were the days when they put women to sleep to give birth. While Momma was unconscious, their baby boy Michael Jerome was born with one minor glitch. He was a girl, and she didn’t have a name because she was destined to be a boy. So, my Dad named me Sharon Kay with the same middle name as Momma. I’m sure she was surprised when she woke up about her new girl. And, that’s the way it’s always been told to me.