On all of my birthdays, I was reminded that it was the anniversary of Hitler’s suicide.
One classless year, my family threw a Hitler-themed birthday party for me – eleven years old. I even got a swastika on my homemade birthday cake (because what decorator would make that?) which I proceeded to chuck at my mom’s face.
I was greeted with pink balloons every time I came home from the hospital because “girls are supposed to like pink,” my mom said. Having my tonsils removed was okay because I got to eat ice cream a lot. And my broken leg healed pretty quickly. I hated going to the hospital though because they always stuck me with Dr. Baumgartner; he didn’t have much to offer the world beisdes his Harvard diploma. A nurse once told me he had a small penis.
I went to college. Princeton. Top of my class. I majored in Political Science, but ended up becoming a writer. My college years are blurry because I was on drugs. I only remember one night clearly.
It was my twenty-first birthday party. My friends and I were hanging out at Lacy’s, a cute little bar on the corner of Kale and Baker. I was sipping a complimentary appletini when the men’s bathroom attendant approached me and asked me to dance. The lights were dimmed; I shrugged and took his hand.
We sat down in the back room and he told me about his life. His grandpa taught Albert Einstein how to tie his shoes. And this man, who never formally introduced himself to me, explained that he had been questioning his sexuality for years, wasting condoms on women he barely knew. He didn’t want me to be another one, so he abandoned me and drove away in his blue Dodge Kinsway.
I quit drugs after college. I aged slowly.
I found love some time in my forties, but it didn’t last long and it ended in a messy divorce. Carlos was a lanky man who wore size 14 shoes and couldn’t deliver a pick-up line. He was too young for me anyways, so I let him pursue his life dream of being an ice skater and forgot about the sleepless nights where we would lay in bed and look up at the stars in our eternally roofless home.
I became a waitress for nine months. The biggest tip I ever got was from an eighty-two year old man named Martin with an empty home and a full wallet. So we got married.
Our marriage ended when Martin died a month later.
Since I had so much extra money, I figured I would move somewhere nice, so I ran away to California and settled in a house near Bolsa Chica Dog Beach. I started a business selling homemade dog treats to passers-by and quickly became the talk of the town.
My sixties were regrettable, so I chose to forget them a long time ago.
Everything changed on my seventieth birthday when I met Charlotte, but like many of my past lovers, she died from a stroke soon after we met.
And I was alone again in a big house.
By this time, I was seventy-nine. I couldn’t work. I didn’t have much of a reason to live, so I took up knitting and rocking in a rocking chair. I knitted for three days straight until I realized I hadn’t eaten anything and my dog was dead. My fingers trembled too much to write. My next-door neighbor brought me tuna noodle casserole and a Jell-o mold.
The next few years were dull. The beach was quiet at night after the dogs’ barks faded into the cool sand. The water was chilly to the touch, but my feet adjusted quickly. It was dream-like – the temperature suddenly shifted from freezing to a radiating warmth. I think I screamed, but no one heard me. In the morning, an inner tube floated calmly in the ocean.