Happy Birthday, Mom!
Thanks for teaching me how to read when I was three and a half. Thanks for giving me dance lessons and voice lessons and horseback riding lessons and art classes even though we could so not afford them, and letting me go to the theatre, and waiting in the blue velvet living room chair when I came home at three in the morning, my shoes in my hand, smelling of Bicardi and cigarettes (which were not mine).
Thanks for your big, funny family. Thanks for those gypsy genes of yours which gave me spirally hair and skin that doesn't sunburn or show its years. My best friend, whenever he comes over, swears you are aging backwards (and as an artist, he should know). Thanks for giving me your long, maroon leather jacket from 1975, and legs with which to wear it. Thanks for reading all the time, and informing me boredom is a lack of imagination.
You got married at nineteen and moved around the country five times, twice while pregnant. You put notes in my lunchbox every day, and one in my suitcase when I moved to DC at 22 for grad school. I found it the first night alone in my apartment, when I slept on the couch because the bed was only slats and frame. The hardwood floors echoed, and the upstairs neighbors fought, and two big rooms were too many, and I knew already I had made a terrible mistake. You called, worried that I was lonely, and I lied and said I had met a few other students and we were going to a party. I think you knew even then I was lying. Thanks for believing me.
The note said: Whatever it is, you can do it. You too.