February 29th. A strange and wonderful day that indicates a Leap Year. This is the 14th Leap Year I’ve experienced. For the first one, in 1964, I was still in utero but only five weeks shy of being born, I’m pretty certain I was aware of the world outside of my mother’s womb.
Each of the Leap Year holds a certain significance, that much is certain.
In 1964, I was born. That’s pretty significant. As far as I know there were no complications and I came out healthy and as strong as a newborn can be.
In 1968, on my 4th birthday, Martin Luther King, Jr. was murdered. A powerful and important voice was silenced. I often wonder what impact he would have been able to have had he been allowed to live a longer life.
In 1972, Don McLean was singing “American Pie” and Michael Jackson was singing “Ben.” We were all over the place for music and movies and pop culture. I don’t remember what was going on with the Olympics nor do really remember Watergate, but I do remember singing “American Pie” as well as some songs by Neil Young as I looked out into the treetops outside my bedroom.
In 1976, my brother Chris graduated high school and moved away to college leaving me as the last child at home. I was only 12 so I somehow felt sibling-orphaned, if that is even a thing. A year earlier my paternal Grandmother died. I missed her then and I miss her still.
In 1980, I took the California High School Proficiency Exam and left high school after my sophomore year. Instead, I went to Junior College, which was, basically, high school with ashtrays. I studied important topics such as theater make-up and tap dancing. They have served me well.
In 1984, at the very end of the year, I returned to the USA after a couple of years of traveling through the South Pacific, New Zealand and Australia. I came back with an Australian accent, testament to my fear of being noticed and my desire to blend in with the locals as best I could.
In 1988, something significant must have happened that Leap Year but, truth be told, I’m not sure what that was. Whatever.
In 1992, a doctor told me I had five years to live. Ha! I should give him a call and say I’m phoning from the beyond the grave.
In 1996, I moved to Switzerland and began working for the United Nations. I was entirely unprepared for the job but I faked it until I made it. Mostly.
In 2000, I became a foster parent. The most difficult experience with the greatest reward imaginable: a life-long bond with my foster daughter, now a grown woman, who continues to impress me on a daily basis.
In 2004, I turned 40 on 04.04.04 and was fortunate enough to do so in East Africa so I splurged on a trip to the island of Zanzibar. It was a magical weekend. I spent that birthday alone as I did many of my birthdays and I’d do it all again, gladly.
In 2008, we elected Barack Obama and I felt a deep sigh of relief as my hope for the world and, in particular, this country, began to return.
In 2012, I had my Chinese birthday (I’m a Wood Dragon) as I turned 48. I had finally managed to set up my life in such a way that I could again pursue creative endeavors. The decision to redirect my life has led to countless experiences – music, writing, falling in love – that I could never have imagined when I first hit that new path.
In 2016, I now find myself in the 4th semester of an MFA program for creative writing and teaching world literature as I consider what my next steps in life will be once I graduate.
I also find myself, yet again, holding my breath for fear of what is happening in our country. The election frightens me, but I will hold those thoughts in hopes that the GOP cleans its own house before any permanent damage is done.
And I find myself feeling deep admiration for Chris Rock for being bold as he opened up the 88th Oscars last night – good for him for speaking truth. And so many other eloquent activists…too many to list…whom I admire, that keep fighting the systematic injustices and systemic racism rampant in this country today. #BlackLivesMatter
Also, Joe Biden – wow – didn’t see that coming. So cool to see our VP addressing rape culture at the Oscars. Bravo. I hate that it needs to be addressed, but it does. Like so many other things. So many things to fix in this world. So many responsibilities we all have to make things better for one another and future generations.
Who knows where I will be in 2020 when the next Leap Year rolls around, but I’m pretty sure I’ll have yet another interesting entry to add to this list. I’ll keep you posted!