Every year before my birthday I get inexplicably anxious. It’s not that I don’t like getting older, or that I fear aging; I am genuinely excited for my forties and each year I feel I become a little more myself. But birthdays do give me that deer-in-the-headlights feeling.

I fret over what I want to do for the day to make it special. I always have, ever since I was a kid. As if one day could make up for a year of inattentiveness. I remember at ten…