In Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, a favorite book of mine since the age of six, Jo March complains that the reason for her November birthday is that – at least according to her sister Meg – it’s “…the most disagreeable month of the year.” For the longest time, I had a silent disagreement with Jo, despite the fact that she was my favorite character. In my young mind, a birthday in November was utter perfection when compared to the sad reality of a birthday in August. After all, August is the end of summer, a time when my school friends were all on last vacations with their families, and my summer camp friendships had already been forgotten in the two weeks since coming home.
As I grew older, however, I grew to love my August birthday.
For one thing, I didn’t have to share it with very many people. Most of my friends had birthdays that were one of many in a month, but August birthdays are relatively rare, at least in my circle of friends and relations. Then, too, there are no national holidays in August, so there’s no chance of having a birthday get overshadowed by Halloween, say, or Christmas. No, August is a wide expanse of sunny days and balmy nights. It’s beach weather, firefly weather, and playing -card-games-to-the-wee-hours-of-the-morning weather. It’s the time when you pick the last of the watermelon and raspberries, and the best of the corn and tomatoes, and the first of the autumn squash.
By the time I was married, I had grown to love my late-summer birthday so much that I declared August to be my month. Oh, I’ll be gracious and share a few days with others who have the luck to be born in August, too, but as I said, those people form a select few. Even better, like me, most of those rare, special people with August birthdays are also Leos. I mean, I’m in good company: Lucille Ball, Madonna, Martha Stewart, Linda Ellerbee, and Julia Child are all August Leo Women, and the Men of August include Steve Martin, Garrison Keillor, Matthew Perry, and my junior-high crush, Malcolm-Jamal Warner. Leos then, and especially August Leos, really are born to roar.
These days, my birthday isn’t just a day of feeling extremely popular on Facebook and getting nifty presents from people (though I do enjoy both of those things), it’s also become the first day of my personal year. Almost from the first of the month, my creativity begins an upward climb. Words start to sing in my soul after having spent most of July emitting only a tuneless hum, and my energy increases exponentially.
By the end of August, when most people around me are lamenting the end of summer, I’m giddily gathering sunflowers, and feeling strong enough in mind, body, and spirit to conquer anything.
Even so, there’s often a hint of darkness beneath all my solar-powered strength and manic mane-tossing, especially this year.
For some reason, even though turning thirty-five and forty, didn’t really bother me all that much, the fact that I turned forty-two this year is – well – kind of freaking me out. A good friend suggested that it’s because my age is the same number that British science-fiction author Douglas Adams (best known for The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) declared to be the ultimate answer to the question of Life, the Universe, and Everything. Even though that seems a little bit hokey, I concede that he may have a point. Sure, 42 is the Answer, but there are days – too many days – when I’m not entirely certain that I’ve asked the right Question.
Here’s what I do know: this Leo is still ascending. I may only put three candles on my birthday cake (for yesterday, today, and tomorrow), but you better believe there IS a birthday cake (chocolate, with raspberry filling). And maybe I haven’t yet published my novel or become a famous voice actress, but I’m writing more and more every day, and I was just cast in a really exciting (but super-secret) project. My only children may be rescue dogs, but they love me unconditionally, and every time I look at one of them, I know I’ve saved a life. My husband will never be a corporate big-wig, but that’s fine, because I’m far too much of an unconventional, urban nomad, bathtub mermaid, quasi-bohemian to ever want that kind of life.
For me, August isn’t the end of summer; it’s the beginning of the cool, crisp, invigorating autumn. Likewise, age really is just a number, so even though the calendar insists that I’m forty-two, in audio dramas I’m seventeen forever, and in my heart I’m both ageless and age-defying.
I am Leo. I am Rising. Hear me Roar.