Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Birthday Presence

Of course I did not choose my birthday, but if I could have, I would have. I have come to regard May 4 as a special feature. For many years, I considered it a highly inconvenient time for an academic person to be born, the celebration coming as it does, just in time for final papers and exams each year.

In recent years, however, I've decided that the birthday -- and the wedding anniversary that follows it by less than a week -- are opportunities to bring a little balance to academic life, which otherwise runs pretty much around the clock this time of year, except during the early morning coffee hour and the early evening dinner hour. So we took the weekend off from academic work and did some cooking, walking, theater-going, and of course blogging.

I almost never think of my birthday without thinking of the terrible events that took place the day I turned seven, though I was only vaguely aware of them at the time.

Because it took place on my birthday and because I have spent my entire adult life on college campuses, I have given the events of that day a lot of thought. I have an investigative book published by a religious denomination in 1973 and have seen the 1981 television movie several times.

Only this year did I learn that students protesting the same thing -- Nixon's invasion of Cambodia -- were gunned down less than two weeks later at Jackson State University.

I also learned that in the days between those two assaults, the president has spent a morning trying -- in his own enigmatic way -- to connect with the young people he had so alienated. It was early in  the morning of May 9 -- which seventeen later would be our wedding day -- that Nixon took a young man on his staff to the grounds of the Lincoln Memorial. As the sun came up, he chatted informally and awkwardly with the young people he found there. This very odd encounter is the subject of a short documentary about our most enigmatic president.

At our house, birthdays are about small indulgences. This year that turned out to be a dinner of savory crepes followed by dessert crepes. I  cooked my own dinner, because I enjoy everything about this dinner, which happens to have been the first one I ever made for Pam, back on Hooper Avenue three decades ago. This time the wine was better.

And after that we celebrated a much more pleasant coincidence. I share my birthday with
Miss. Audrey. Hepburn.

She was witty and pretty, of course, but much more: a brave humanitarian.
Audrey HepburnSee Mighty Girl for more.
May 4, 1929 -- January 20, 1993
I watched the original Star Wars when it was in theaters (my first date), but it was years before I realized that the film kept mentioning my birthday.

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