i am 31 now

so, how awesome was my birthday? i woke up to a really weird nightmare in which the women currently living in the apartment jared & i are moving into in august were refusing to clean it after they moved out. when we asked them to clean it & avoid having the landlord have to hire a cleaner & take it out of their security deposit, they went nuts & started chasing us around lawrence, trying to beat us up. this dream involved my #1 anxiety dream manifestation: trying to call 911 & not being able to get through. one of the girls who was attacking us also encouraged me to use the unconscious body of her boyfriend as a weapon, & when i couldn’t find jared, i was like, where the hell is he? is he unconscious somewhere, being used as a battering ram?

anyway. that was a really weird dream. jared & i slept in (he came down to philly on saturday night & we went out to eat a somewhat sub-standard italian restaurant, & then enjoyed yuengling & cigarettes), kind of ridiculously late. he, amanda, & i went for breakfast at morning glory. i drank coffee out of a weird tin cup & ate banana bread piled with whipped cream, strawberries, & sliced bananas. walking down the sidewalk afterward, we heard a bunch of plaintive meowing & a frisky little tabby cat ran over to us, wanting to be petted. this was only my second direct cat-petting interaction in all the time i’ve been in philly! this little kitty was so excited about affection that it actually fell down the porch steps in an attempt to reach my hand. which made us all laugh.

we headed out to the zoo. when i was a kid, it seemed like the zoo usually stayed open until dusk, but this zoo closed at 5pm, so we didn’t really have much time there. we had hoped to take a ride in the zoo balloon, but the line was too long & there just wasn’t time for it. instead, we ran around checking out the animals. the peacocks are allowed to just wander all around the zoo & go wherever they want. we saw one sitting in the andean black bear enclosure. here’s hoping andean black bears don’t eat peacocks. i was most excited for the bank of american great cat falls (it cracked my shit up that the big cats enclosure was sponsored by bank of america), & the tigers definitely did not disappoint. one of them was feeling really frisky & rolled around on its back, waving its paws in the air. the other one wandered around & then went into a pool & swam around for a while. we saw a hippopotamus emerge from a pool, we saw giraffes trying to eat all the leaves off the trees in their enclosure, we saw a really testy puma attempting to break the lock on its enclosure, we saw really scary african hornbills running around at top speed, we saw otters going totally nuts chasing each other around their habitat…it was awesome. my only regret is that we couldn’t have stayed there longer.

we stopped by the grocery store on the way home to pick up ingredients for flourless chocolate cake. back at the house, jared asked if i was ready for my birthday presents. i had no idea he was going to get me birthday presents! i thought my presents were that he came down to philly to spend the weekend with me, & took me out to eat, & took me to the zoo! but he brought me his courier bag & i opened it up & lo & behold…he had actually made a solo trip to american girl place to pick up some surprises for me! i don’t even have the words to express how unbelievably thoughtful & sweet i found this. i’d made my peace with satisfying my bizarre obsession with american girl stuff on my own. it means a lot to me that jared is so supportive of whatever it is that makes me happy. for the rest of the night, i kept imagining him going in there to get me something (those of you who have been there are aware that the place is totally surreal & complicated & freaky) & it made me smile. the idea of him making that effort is maybe even better than the actual gifts themselves!

after that, we put the cake together, & i whipped up a batch of baked rigatoni for dinner. sarah & kate came by to hang out, & we all sat on the patio & listened to records. after sarah left, we moved all the chairs off to the edges of the patio & jared & amanda strung up the ludicrous strawberry shortcake pinata that amanda bought at the italian market. they blindfolded me & handed me a weird little stick & pinata shenanigans ensued. apparently, at first i was directing the stick at jared instead of the pinata. he kept saying, “no! help! stop! ack!” eventually they oriented me at the pinata, but that thing was fucking indestructible. i couldn’t see what the hell i was doing, & my arm got so tired that i accidentally let go of the stick & it flew across the patio twice. apparently i also took out an entire branch on one of amanda’s trees. but eventually the world’s best-constructed pinata came down & all that was left was cleaning up the incredible carnage of leaves & pinata bits scattered across a ten-by-ten-foot radius.

we ate cake & some people had ice cream & jared & i went to bed.

okay, maybe it doesn’t sound like much, but i loved every second of it. the whole day was so much more surprising & eventful & fun & special than i had expected. amanda got me a little tiara in the italian market & i wore it to the zoo. she took photos of us at the zoo & put them up on facebook (of course my digital camera died as soon as we got to the tiger exhibit).

i only have about a week left in philly. i’m not sure what else to do with my time here. i’m hoping to sell the rest of the zines i have laying around to the wooden shoes before i leave, & on thursday, i might go to the pizza olympics & then one last karaoke night at the handlebar. jared finishes up his fellowship this weekend & will be coming back down to philly to join me on sunday. i’m trying to wrap up the first draft of a story i’m writing for some weird “emerging writers” contest (“emerging” apparently means “no agent, no publishing credits”). the deadline is the end of the month & the story needs so much editing. we’ll see if i can cobble something together. meanwhile, the flash fiction story for the contest this month has been edited to perfection, i think. i really don’t see anything else that needs to be changed, or that can be changed without changing the direction of the story somehow. i feel good about it. not that i am holding my breath for a placement for anything. right now, submitting to contests is just about getting my stories out there & getting comfortable with rejection & critique.

last night i dreamt that jared & i were back in lawrence, & we were taking a walk by the train park. jared was in the lead, & he turned a corner & went down a little hill parallel to the path. but when i turned to follow him, the path ahead was a little stream & jared was gone. no trace of him whatsoever. like he had never even been there. it was pretty horrible. it was good that he was there in my bed, because i woke up & could reach over & touch his shoulder & remind myself that he is real & he was right there with me, not gone in some weird stream or something. i don’t know what this kind of dream means. maybe it’s just an “anxiety of love” dream, you know? like when you love someone more than you ever thought possible & you start to wonder what’s going to happen to ruin it. in my case, probably writing about my dreams will wreck it all. not cool, ciara

Published by Ciara

Ciara Xyerra wrote zines for the better part of two decades. She has a brilliant & adorable preschooler named Ramona & sews as much as she possibly can. She lives in Lawrence, Kansas with her boyfriend. She enjoys catching up on "The New Yorker", meatball subs, keeping it cranky, intersectional post-third wave feminism, dinosaurs, & monsters. If you have nothing nice to say, she recommends that you come sit here by her, so you can say not-nice things together.

2 thoughts on “i am 31 now

  1. Your birthday sounds like it was fun! And also, I awwed at Jared’s gift.

    Also, if you need any help with editing your other short story let me know. I’m happy to help!

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