I woke up early for my birthday, from some kids making an infernal racket outside. Ah, the crazy eighty-eights, and leaving eighty-seven (which was such a regal age). Maybe one of the nurses at the retirement home will give me a "happy-ending" spongebath. I bribed one of the orderlies to bring me a "happy special" prune cake and to spike my bran-and-oj with a little champagne- that should keep me "regular.". Harry stopped by, his seventy-eighth birthday is next week. He brought me some new grillz for my dentures-nothing like a blinged-out set of false teeth. I also received some good new this morning, my book, "Tales of a Wandering Curmudgeon" reached number one on the NY Times list. Ah, the crazy eightyeights, this should be a good year.
Ok, maybe I am not that old, but I sure woke up tired this morning. I little babalased, shedding skin like a lizard from too much Mar Del Plata sun, and my knee still hurts from falling out of bed two weeks ago. Oh, the aches and pains of pushing thirty. Otherwise, I am all good.
If twentyseven was regal, twentyeight will be grand. In typical Pavlichko fashion, I invited a gaggle of people for a birthday/going away party to a bar that was closed. I posted up a sign with chewing gum, sending everyone down the street to an Irish pub. The party was nice, and in Don Pablo fashion, only girls. Yet unlike last year in Bangkok, none were shooting pingpong balls at me.
I got some wonderful birthday wishes from far-away places, people who I would not expect to remember my birthday. And some forgetfulness on the part of some people who I would not expect. So it goes. On to the birthday questions, as sent by Harry, drumroll please....
1. If you could have dinner with anyone living or deceased minus my lovely self (Harry), who would it be? Dinner on the floor with one Mahatma Gandhi, eating rice and veggies.
2. What was your favorite birthday? My eighth (?) birthday party at BowlAmerica, or have I stolen a memory from someone else.
3. Where were you last year on your birthday? Bangkok
4. Where do you want to be for your birthday next year? Hawaii or Zanzibar
Off to shave the cabeza. One year of growth, coming off my soon-to-be-sheared head. As for a birthday gift to myself, it comes from Borges (The Maker), and is titled "Borges and I"
The other one, the one called Borges, is the one things happen to. I walk through the streets of Buenos Aires and stop for a moment, perhaps mechanically now, to look at the arch of an entrance hall and the grillwork on the gate; I know of Borges from the mail and see his name on a list of professors or in a biographical dictionary. I like hourglasses, maps, eighteenth-century typography, the taste of coffee and the prose of Stevenson; he shares these preferences, but in a vain way that turns them into the attributes of an actor. It would be an exaggeration to say that ours is a hostile relationship; I live, let myself go on living, so that Borges may contrive his literature, and this literature justifies me. It is no effort for me to confess that he has achieved some valid pages, but those pages cannot save me, perhaps because what is good belongs to no one, not even to him, but rather to the language and to tradition. Besides, I am destined to perish, definitively, and only some instant of myself can survive in him. Little by little, I am giving over everything to him, though I am quite aware of his perverse custom of falsifying and magnifying things.
Spinoza knew that all things long to persist in their being; the stone eternally wants to be a stone and the tiger a tiger. I shall remain in Borges, not in myself (if it is true that I am someone), but I recognize myself less in his books than in many others or in the laborious strumming of a guitar. Years ago I tried to free myself from him and went from the mythologies of the suburbs to the games with time and infinity, but those games belong to Borges now and I shall have to imagine other things. Thus my life is a flight and I lose everything and everything belongs to oblivion, or to him.
I do not know which of us has written this page.