I have always found the 29th of February a somewhat fascinating day, mysterious and ominous in its rarity. I often hope something exciting will happen and must admit to feeling fleeting envy for anyone fortunate enough to have been born on this day. I think I feel particular regret because I was born on a leap year and my own birthday was so close to the cherished date. I am fairly sure I was aiming for the 29th (I was due on the 18th) but perhaps I got far too comfortable because I overshot it a little and didn’t emerge (if I may paint my birth as gracefully as that) until the start of March.
I’m not sure why having less birthdays than everybody else is something to be coveted, but as a child I was always on the lookout for ways to enhance my sense of individuality. It was for the same reason that I looked upon my left-handed schoolmates with enthralled longing. Writing with the wrong hand! What a marvellous way to stand out from the crowd. Why hadn’t I thought of that? It didn’t matter that their work was smudged and they couldn’t use scissors properly; a small price to pay to be thought of as unique.
So, at the age of about 8 when I realised that I still hadn’t learnt how to tie shoelaces, what began as a moment of shame turned rapidly into a glorious opportunity for uniqueness. Poised over my untied laces, I made a very definite decision. I would NEVER learn. Everybody else could do it and it was average, normal and boring. I would stand out by never being able to. So I tucked my laces inside my shoes and basked in my new-found sense of individuality.
Over the years, I have been tempted to learn and have often needed to look away when others are putting their shoes on. The other day, my husband even offered to break it down step by step. I gave it a go and to my horror I thought I could do it. But to my great relief, the knot fell apart. My uniqueness remains intact.