Nobody in the widow's household ever celebrated anniversaries. In the secrecy of my room I would not admit I cared that my friends were given parties. Before I left town for school my birthday went up in smoke in a fire at City Hall that gutted the Department of Vital Statistics. If it weren't for a census report of a five-year-old White Male sharing my mother's address at the Green Street tenement in Worcester I'd have no documentary proof that I exist. You are the first, my dear, to bully me into these festive occasions.
Sometimes, you say, I wear an abstracted look that drives you up the wall, as though it signified distress or disaffection. Don't take it so to heart. Maybe I enjoy not-being as much as being who I am. Maybe it's time for me to practice growing old. The way I look at it, I'm passing through a phase: gradually I'm changing to a word. Whatever you choose to claim of me is always yours: nothing is truly mine except my name. I only borrowed this dust.