I love my birthday. I love birthday presents even more.
My husband and friends know that I can be particular (read: picky) about gifts, so every year they ask me for a list. Sure, it eliminates the element of surprise, but it also eliminates me faking jubilance—like the time in eighth grade when my mom presented me with a neon green, purple and black Ispo jacket (#neverforget) and I had to feign excitement while wondering if she was in fact my real mother and knew me at all.
This year I’ve prepared an extensive and specific list of delightful items, ideas and minor miracles that I would love to receive after blowing out the candles on my cake (gluten-free Black Forest with real whipped cream if you please).
1. Someone to back up my phone weekly so when I inevitably drop it in the toilet and take it sheepishly to the Apple Store in a rice-filled Ziploc baggie coffin, the 18-year-old “genius” doesn’t bark at me, “What do you mean you didn’t back it up?”
2. When I crouch or take a flight of stairs, I’d love it if my knees and joints didn’t sound like the Battle of Waterloo.
3. I’d like to be able to merge in traffic without whipping my head back and forth so quickly I need a supportive medical turtleneck afterwards.
4. NO MORE ZITS.
5. When I say “Goodnight” and start to close the door of my daughter’s bedroom, instead of her taking that as a cue to launch into the best and longest story of her day, she will simply toss me a thumb-up, roll over into her posse of stuffies and fall asleep.
6. Self-cleaning pillow cases. For some reason, every laundry day, I forget to strip our bed and wash the linens. There’s nothing worse than jumping into bed at the end of the day, heart racing at the possibility of unconsciousness, flopping your head down onto your pillow and releasing the smell of your hair musk from the last month into the air like a tiny noxious cloud.
7. Boobs, without surgery or pregnancy. Just a B cup. It’s not a big ask.
8. Lipstick that doesn’t randomly smear so far down my chin that it looks like I French-kissed a clown.
9. Zero-calorie cheese. I’m totally fine with a 2 percent chance of anal leakage.
10. NO MORE NIGHTMARES ABOUT HIGH SCHOOL.
11. Candles that make our apartment smell 56 percent cleaner.
12. A Roomba-like device that will stealthily move from room to room and suck up glitter and crumbs—my daughter’s two largest contributions to our decor.
13. Every time I buy booze, I’d like to be checked for ID. I’ll appear to be momentarily annoyed but really be vigorously fist-pumping internally.
14. More reality shows about naked men fixing household items.
15. An alarm on my phone that tells me when a “teachable moment” is about to unfold.
16. More hugs. I seriously love full-body contact hugs. Just don’t pull away before we’re mutually finished.
17. One hour in a bouncy castle, by myself, in case I pee everywhere.
18. A bubble bath free of any random floating hair of various origins.
19. Two uninterrupted bathroom visits, up to 30 minutes each.
20. An app that reminds me of impending birthdays so I always look like a thoughtful and generous friend.
21. The ongoing super power to cure all ouches with a smooch.
22. Three pairs of jeans that look great on me, even during the weeks when I eat Chicago Mix popcorn for dinner.
23. The bravery to answer phone calls from numbers I don’t recognize.
24. The ability to deliver the perfect comeback when someone is a dick to me.
25. A signature scent made from a perfume oil so splendid and hypnotic it makes peoplestop in their tracks, look at me and demand we make out right there on the spot.
26. The ability to have more than one glass of wine and not feel like fresh-baked hell the next morning.
27. NO GRAY HAIR ANYWHERE ON MY BODY.
28. A brand of cheese sticks that doesn’t require an engineering degree to open.
29. A spur-of-the-moment weekend getaway with my husband (just no camping of any sort).
30. Salted caramel EVERYTHING.
31. The skills to apply eyeliner without looking like I let my 4-year-old help.
32. An Uber service for school drop-off and pickup. (Drivers will accept payment via unwrapped cheese stick.)
33. Instagram to be inaccessible in the two hours before I go to sleep so I don’t spend two hours scrolling through the lives of others with a green heart and bleary eyes.
34. NO MORE DINNERS. (I realize this might be a bigger ask than the boobs.)
35. Microwaveable popcorn that isn’t 25 pieces of popcorn and 113 blazing hot kernels.
36. Skin that can handle a seasonal transition without becoming so dry that my legs look like an old seaside house with strips of weathered paint dangling off them.
37. NO MORE CROW’S FEET.
38. For all my friends and family to live forever, or at least longer than me, because I love them too much to handle thinking about any of them not being in my life forever. (And you thought boobs were a big ask.)
If it seems like a lot, it is. I’m almost halfway to death. I can’t afford to be coy about what exactly I want or need in this life.
I can be flexible though. I’m more than OK with just one uninterrupted bathroom visit. But I get to bring my phone, snacks and a book, and there’s no time limit.
You don’t get to be this old without thinking of everything.