It was my 36th birthday yesterday and, despite my best intentions, I couldn't help feeling profoundly, utterly wretched.
I went to work as normal, and kept my mouth shut. I didn't want to broadcast the fact that I was entering the wrong side of my Thirties, and I didn't much care for the fuss. It was, after all, a bit of a nonsense; just a man-made calendar-based anniversary of my birth, hardly an achievement, nothing to write home about and celebrate.
So I went to work like any other day and answered the phones like normal.
And served customers like normal.
And queried my colleagues about mundanities like normal.
Meanwhile, I kept an eye on damn Facebook. My ex-girlfriend (American) bizarrely celebrates her birthday the same day as me, as she's exactly a year younger. She was getting inundated with 'Happy Birthdays' and 'Congratulations' on her spurious achievement of ageing one year.
I, meanwhile, received not a word. Not from her, who undoubtedly knew it was my birthday as well, not even from my sister who lives only on Facebook and where we conduct our fragile relationship as she won't talk to me otherwise.
But I was now 36 dammit, and above such fripperies.
Then I remembered the email I sent ex-girlfriend (American) the day before. Yes, I didn't mention 'Birthday' or indeed 'Happy', but I did allude to our upcoming anniversaries in my own stupid way as I sent her a cute, personalised Swedish meme currently doing the rounds.
'Oh yeah,' I recalled. 'She still hasn't replied to that. Must be busy.'
I was getting tetchy as the day drew to a close. I hadn't received a single card, much less a present as, well, my family have been instrumental in helping me buy a flat and all that that entails, so the last thing I was expecting was just more gifts.
But something, anything, just a dumb little whatsit to make me feel the giddying thrill of blood coursing through my veins on my apparently special day, that would've been nice.
The day wore on. My phone rang. Blocked number. I answered it excitedly, only to discover an automated recording wanting me to rate the services of a broadband repair line.
So desperate was I for contact that I actually relished the attention - then felt really rather deflated when I accidentally cut it off.
I considered going to Waitrose and coming back with a big cake, but felt that was a bit pathetic.
"What's this in aid of?"
"It's my birthday."
So I checked into Facebook.
'Blah blah blah voting, blah blah blah taking the kids to school...'
Unable to stop myself, I updated my status which had previously been, 'I should probably go to bed', to 'Thank you all for your kind birthday wishes. Oh, wait, there haven't been any'.
This provoked at first a couple of insults. Then a small drip of genuinely nice "Happy birthdays," followed by a slightly larger drip of a few more.
It fed my soul as the work phone rang and a colleague mumbled something about pricecodes.
It was coming up to 5pm, when I made my excuses and left a bit earlier. Just the day before, I had phoned my Mum and asked her and my step-Dad out to dinner. Thank god I did, because it became the nearest to any kind of celebration.
We arrived at the restaurant. My sister was already there with her two girls, and I felt the tension dissipate as I had a couple of beers and opened my first cards. The waiters congratulated me on seeing them - one of whom wishing me 'everything my heart desires,' which I found to be both a little over the top, and desperately brilliant at the same time.
I stuffed my face and listened, with a grin, to a waiter ramble on about Chinese tea, and caught my sister silently judging me, I thought because she thinks I might be gay - as not much else explains turning 36 with the only hint of a woman being one who ignores me from over 4,000 miles away.
Pictures were taken - and annoyingly uploaded immediately onto fucking Facebook - where I looked massive. I tried not to think about all that extra weight being a colossal contributor to my lack of confidence in the lady-dating arena.
And then I went back to my flat, my lovely, new, empty, modern flat, where I'd never felt so alone in my life.