I'm a Leaper

Birthday cake with candles and sparklers.
Birthday cake with candles and sparklers.

I am a Leaper.

A person who, thanks to some mathematical errors tied to the cosmic interactions of Earth and Sun and bad math on the part of some old timers long ago is lost in time, born on a day that simply doesn't exist three out of four years.

Now I want to be clear, I'm not whining. And to you this may sound like something simple, after all you've had a birthday your whole life. You have it every year. It is a part of the marking of time for you, like any other annual holiday - except of course this one is numbered, in fact it's the only chronological holiday in your life, and is almost always celebrated in some form. It is an expectation that is programmed in when you are too young to know any better. And you live by it, like it or not, "acting your age" and "aging" are referential to the concept that you are rolling through a set of 365s over and over, with some sort of ethereal counter ticking over one click with each set of candles you extinguish, and each time it does you get closer to the end of the count. Same with a Leaper, but we get to trade the downside of being confused when it comes to birthdays with the upside of being able to use the confusion to keep the whole counter thing fuzzy...

Your birthday happens each year, on exactly the same day. It is a solid thing, a dependable thing, a measure of your life broken down into 365 subunits. For a Leaper it is a bit different. For us the basic assumption is shattered from the beginning. Yes some parents pick an arbitrary day each year, let's say the first of March or the 28th of February. And for some kids that works, although once they reach a certain age, they learn it isn't real. My parents simply picked the closest weekend when I was small, and after that I never settled in on a date on UN-Years. So my concept of a birthday is a bit skewed. And so the between birthdays lost their real meaning. In fact everyone's annual birthdays lost their meaning. To this day I have a hard time recalling anyone's birthday, no matter how close they are to me. (Something that goes over just great in relationships.).

So for me, the usual measurements of years are slightly shifted. I am one who measures my time in units four times longer than yours. And as most people do when faced with weird situations or twists of fate, I made adjustments. While sad as a kid that I didnt have a real birthday, as i got older I began a tradition of UnBirthdays for those in between (having discovered the term in Tolkien's Hobbit). These were events when I often give gifts to others. Depending on how the year is going I also tend to get a bit selfish with my time for both the 28th and the 1st sometimes... declaring them to both be my "birthdays" in a an act of "I'll show you universe!" and then, sometimes I just ignore them completely. I do remember a few times in college a bunch of loaded friends standing in a circle around me at exactly midnight on the 28th to see if there was some sort of shimmer as I dematerialized and re-appeared. In our state at the time many did swear they saw something. But then again, it was the seventies, and they probably did.

And then of course comes the Real Birthday. That's when I like to do something special. A Real Party. Usually in the past they were blends of my two ages, involving a mix between adult partying and kids stuff appropriate to the number of birthdays I am having. So I might get a nice adult gift and a squirt gun. Or when I began to throw shindigs what might start as a cocktail party would instantly devolve into a kids playground at a set time with the introduction of bubbles and silly string. Fun to watch grown ups in club clothes and little black dresses join into the devolution, as they start screaming and chasing each other like children. I'm glad to share the momentary denial.

And so yes, I am a Leaper, and while when young it made me feel odd, now I embrace it, and use it to leverage my denial and my war with the culture of aging. I'm helped in this with the confusion in my mind of not having the counter tick each year and stamping me with a number of years that "I Am". In fact when I am asked my age I legitimately have to think for a moment. It used to bother me, now I like it.

This year I turn fifteen in your Earth years. And given my rather wild style and energy levels, it seems at times to be appropriate. In fact a female friend, when first told said simply "That explains everything."

Were my Leaper number "real" in terms of aging, my voice would be shifting, I would be racing towards losing my virginity as I discovered girls and soon my first chest hairs would begin to grow. As it is, my voice is more measured, I long ago discovered women and the only shift in my hairs is a backwards retreat across my skull. Regardless, I embrace my Leaper age and intend to remain as immature as possible as long as possible. I can make cheesy jokes about girls dating a younger man etc. Hey, I'm owning it. And who cares.

After all, it is all just numbers. We are as old as we feel. And while I never feel my calendar age, I often feel my Leaper age. And I'll go with that. Because life is not something to be run down like a counter, nor counted as it runs you down. It is an experience and we can choose to live it as we will.

I choose to embrace what some might see as the denial fate has handed me. What the heck. I expect to never mature, but maybe I'll change my opinion when I get older, let's say when I hit 30....

Oh yeah...