My Three Birthdays: My Gregorian Calendar Birthday

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Prior to coming to Australia, my family operated on the Lunar calendar. As such, they truly had no idea what my birthday was in accordance with this strange, new calendar system that had no obvious relationship to nature. I conflated their confusion around my date of birth as them not caring enough to remember.

In my twenties, I was able to cross-reference The Fourth Day of the First Lunar Month in the Year of The Fire Snake: 21 February, 1977.

My sister and I saw all the other kids having birthday parties, and we nagged our parents into having a birthday party for us. I only remember one. And it was a joint celebration for both my sister and I - despite the fact that I was born in February, and she was born in June!

It was only as a mature adult that I learned that, in Vietnamese culture, we don't celebrate the individual, or individual achievements. We have community gatherings and celebrations.

We celebrate 60th, 70th, 80th and 90th birthdays. If you managed to survive war, famine, and colonization and you still had family and community to celebrate with and you have money to throw around, then there would be A Big Party.

Twelve more years until My Big Party. (We are one year old when we are born.)

Seventeen years ago, I was 30 (half of 60 – The Big Party). Trying to figure out how to navigate a bi-polar relationship with a wonderful man whom I'd met in Alaska three years prior, with a mortgage on a townhouse and a wonderful life in Australia, and a log cabin that we'd built together on 5 acres in interior Alaska.

I had dipped a toe into the wilds of Alaska, and just simply knew that my soul yearned for a closer connection with wildness and wilderness, to become untamed and undomesticated, to romance with survivalism as a blissfully needless state of existential emptiness. I had yet to stumble upon meditation or yoga, or that which can only be discovered through many long cold dark winters, forged through wrestling with solitude and loneliness, battling inner demons which - at that point in time - had yet to fully grip me.

Never having celebrated the annual revolution around the sun, it feels strange....almost an act of assimilation, a fake day that does not represent the calendar system or cultural beliefs of my people.

And yet, as a child, I deeply wished for my parents to celebrate me. They now call me, every year, on the Fourth Day of the Lunar Year!

Today, I am able to be celebrated!!! And roll around in messages of love from around the world, from various epochs of my existence. I'm practicing for The Big Party!


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