When I first arrived in America I didn’t speak English. I’ve always been monolingual, either mono-lingual Sinhala as a child or monolingual English (with bad French) now. Actually, I spoke English first, in Canada, then completely switched to Sinhala in Sri Lanka. When we went to America I had to relearn English from scratch. I have little memory of it but apparently I couldn’t ask to go to the bathroom. What I do remember, unclearly, was being invited to a birthday party as a child an A) not knowing what was going on and B) having some woefully inadequate gift. I think it was a bouncy ball and some plastic unicorn. That can’t be right.
These are childhood memories so I honestly don’t know what’s going on. It’s a mix of photographs and stories and a few things that I truly remember on my own. The problem is that the only things I know for sure are the childhood fantasies and failures that I never told anyone about, and those have precious little to do with objective reality. Anyways, I’ve never really liked birthdays.
My mother used to bake these cheesecake cupcakes to take to school. I liked that. We had one party where we went mountain biking in a nearby quarry (AKA, took our bikes to the quarry). That was fun. I don’t remember that much in between. Lots of kids used to have their parties at Roller Skates Of America. We’d rent skates and go round and round, listening to pop music and falling over. Eat some pizza. Some giant rat or something would come out and we’d do the hokey pokey.
Birthdays are weird. I honestly feel embarrassed at all the attention, but as I get older these days, like everything else, are more controlled, basically about as social as I want them to be. So I like them better. Now, however, I’m officially old.