Monday Roundtable: How Could I Forget?

Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to talk about those people whose birthdays we still remember, every damn year, despite them not actually being in our life anymore. It’s annoying! It’s bittersweet! It’s perhaps a memento from an earlier time when we did not have Google calendars that would remind us of these things!

Heather Hogan, Senior Writer + Editor

My best friend from middle school and I had a very dramatic friend breakup in early high school. We’d been inseparable up until that point, playing on every sports team together, chorus together, spending every weekend at each other’s houses. We shared a baseball card collection, all our cards together in one binder. She was six stops after me on the bus and when she’d get home, ten minutes after I’d just spent the entire day with her, she’d call me and we’d just talk the evening away. She is now a successful and openly gay professional artist and I am now a successful and openly gay professional artist — but there was a time when she was ready to know that’s how our lives were going to evolve and I was absolutely not ready to know that’s how our lives were going to evolve. She never said it out loud, but I sensed it, and she sensed me sensing it, and I panicked and she panicked and we both got cagey and angry and one day, at my locker, she gave me back her half of the best friend charm I’d given her on her 13th birthday. July 23rd.

Erin , Writer

I remember March 1-3 as a touchstone for three people (!) who I’m not in regular communication with anymore, but were all significant in different areas of my life at different times. One is my best friend from middle school/high school, one is a best friend from college, and one is my second girlfriend. Astrology, much??? All of us pisces together, living laughing loving. I don’t really enjoy investigating what this means, that a set of dates don’t hold as much significance as they once did but might again because it reminds me that time is a circle and I sort of hate that.

Rachel Kincaid, Former Managing Editor

My best friend from elementary school, Jess, who I used to play horses with at recess and whose house I got my second period ever in, was born on December 11. She broke my heart when she got mono in the seventh grade and didn’t come to school for months and then when she did we were somehow not best friends anymore, and then also she dated a guy I knew in high school who was an ambulance driver. That didn’t break my heart really but it was a weird coincidence. We have not spoken since then but I will never forget her birthday, or her parents’ home phone number circa 2001.

Carrie Wade, Writer

My unfortunate ex from high school was born on Bastille Day, a fact she would tell any and everyone possible (despite not being French or having any non-birthday connection to the holiday). I think she felt like it made her fancier and more important, which tracks. Given that I still remember, I guess it worked, in a way.

lnj , Director of Operations

I didn’t choose to be this way, but the only birthdays like this that I remember every year are the ones that fall in my birth month, February. So that means Gabe, a true actual cowboy who was kind enough to date me in 8th grade and not be the absolute worst at all; Brianne, my basketball-playing best friend from middle and early high school who shared a very specific way of eating cereal; and Brandi, my once-nemesis (I don’t remember why) who was friends with my one friend but never nice to me, despite sharing a birthday (wait, maybe that’s why I didn’t like her?) always get a little energy blink from me on the 1st, 2nd, and 8th, respectively. Do you think they think of me too? I do. Again I want to reiterate, I did not choose to be this way.

Valerie Anne, Writer

Aside from the few friends who had the month/day of their birthdays tacked onto the end of their AIM username and therefore I shall remember them forever, I am so bad at remembering birthdays (and in fact is pretty much the only thing I use Facebook for). But my best friend from kindergarten (Maria) has the same birthday as my brother, so that’s very convenient. There were years Maria and I went to different schools that we drifted somewhat apart, but every year I’d remember her on her birthday (and it was pre-texting/social media so I couldn’t even really reach out to her.) But sometime around the birth of Facebook we found our way back into each other’s lives (I was even a bridesmaid in her wedding a few years ago) and every year on each other’s birthdays we post our weird inside jokes we’ve had since we were small on each other’s timelines. There’s also a girl the both of us went to school with, Toni Marie, whose birthday is on March 3rd and maybe because I thought it was cool it was 3/3 or maybe because I had a crush on her that was a secret even to me, or maybe I just thought she was super cool and I liked reenacting scenes from Charmed and Power Rangers and Now & Then with her at recess, but I haven’t seen her in probably 20 years and it’s still just a thing I know.

Riese , Editorial & Strategy

In middle school me and all my friends, most of who’d eventually become lesbians, were obsessed with the same boy. Like, OBSESSED. I think this obsession was more about each other than it was about him — loyalties and secrets and all that — but whatever. We went to a small private middle school for gifted students with way more girls than boys, which set up a scarcity economy that put us all into a consistent state of frenzy. His birthday is August 18th. The first thing I ever really understood about astrology was that Of Course He Was a Leo. His parents must’ve been so entertained by the competing messages that would come in on his birthday every year, like each of us wanted to have the best one, or sometimes we’d leave them together? It was bananas. Anyhow every August 18th I think, like a knee-jerk reaction, that I should call him and leave him a Happy Birthday message on his answering machine.

KaeLyn Rich, Writer

I was going to write that I don’t remember anyone’s birthday except my immediate family, but then I remembered that I know one ex’s birthday because it’s the same day as my dad’s birthday. Both my high school puppy dog love situation and my dad were born on July 20th. Kevin and I had this very intense 15-year-old love affair that was a lot of writing each other poetry on notes we discreetly slipped each other in the halls and pining in agony like we were star-crossed lovers instead of hormonal, typical teenagers with very easy lives. I dated his best friend for a couple months, which was a long time in high school terms, and ended dramatically. I don’t think Kevin and I even ever dated officially. It was too complicated with me either being pursued by, dating, or having recently broken up with his best friend. I had so many feelings about him that were deeply earnest at the time, but feel very cute and silly now. I think he was my first love, in the full capacity I had to love at the age of 15. (This is why I worry about people who get married as teens. The feelings are painfully and exquisitely real, but the ability to make good decisions and understand the complexity of relationships is very, very underdeveloped.) I still remember our cough-drop-menthol-flavored first kiss in the dusty dark of the catwalk above the high school auditorium. (We were on light crew together for the high school musical—nerds!) We went on to be very different and very ok people as adults and honestly I don’t typically remember my ex’s birthdays after we break up, but I’ll always be able to recall Kevin’s because he shares it with my dad. I don’t think of him or his birthday often, though and really it only came up because of this roundtable prompt!

My close friend and neighbor from middle school, Blythe. Her birthday is September 11th, and teenagers are assholes so I’m sure you can paint the picture of how her birthday went in 2001 on your own. Just know that it involved me finding her sobbing in the bathroom. I made it a point to make a big deal about her birthday after that. Then when college happened and we weren’t ever really in contact anymore I still made sure to say happy birthday on the Facebook, and kept that up basically until I stopped using Facebook a couple years ago. I’ve never forgotten that it’s her birthday though, or the look on her face when I found her at school that day, and I never will. Heartbreaking.

Stef Schwartz, Vapid Fluff Editor

July 19th was Chris’ birthday, an ex-boyfriend I was particularly fond of, whose presence in my life was completely destroyed by an ex-girlfriend whose exact birthday I cannot recall (she was for sure a Gemini). The gentleman in question had stuck by me through some of my worst moments and stayed a close confidant long after he’d moved to the Bay, and after we stopped talking I used to send him the occasional happy birthday email, letting him know that I’d never stopped caring about him or wanting him back in my life. He never wrote back, and I eventually gave up, but every year I do wonder about writing him again to see if he’s OK out there.

Molly Priddy, Writer

I can remember my first high school boyfriend’s birthday AND our anniversary because this was back before cell phones existed or had calendars in them and you just had to remember this shit. I also remember all my birthday twins — the people who share my birthday — and sometimes reach out to them to be like “HEY REMEMBER HOW WE HAVE THE SAME BIRTHDAY?”

Whose birthday don’t I remember? At my high school, you got baked goods when it was your birthday so I have several on lock (I believe in if you give me some I gotta give you some back). One, of course being the biggest crush I’ve ever had. When I was a freshman I convinced my cousin to buy like a shit ton of candy and a card the night before their birthday and vaguely also remember writing them a shit ton of not very good poetry for both birthdays and a Valentine’s Day, cause I’m real subtle. I just try to like glance over the fact that I remember their birthday especially whenever Patti Lupone sings (thanks Steven Universe!).

Vanessa Friedman, Community Editor

I will remember my first serious girlfriend’s birthday for as long as I live, because it is exactly two weeks before mine. She’s December 7, I’m December 21. We’re on perfectly fine terms – we’re friendly, I see her very occasionally, she’s engaged to my friend who was my roommate when we were dating because that’s what being gay is like, everything is cool. It’s just funny that I will literally never not remember her birthday, especially because in spite of loving birthdays so so so much my brain actually has a really hard time committing anything numerical to memory and I have had trouble remembering all my other serious girlfriends’ birthdays, even when we were actually dating.

Also I just remembered that in 2013 my ex, her now fiance who was my friend and roommate at the time, and I all had a JOINT BIRTHDAY PARTY because our birthdays all fell within a month of each other and there are some photos of the three of us holding a cake together at what was a very successful party that Stef attended in my old apartment in Williamsburg. To recap: when that photo was taken, I was living with one girl and dating the other. Now those two humans are engaged to each other!!! God I fucking love/hate being gay.

I hate myself for knowing this, but I still remember my first love’s birthday. This Leo ass Gemini moon’s bday is August 21st. As the date gets closer I usually feel very weird.

Just like most of the relationship it feels kinda like shit? We still text each other on our birthdays. We’ve done it every year since we’ve known each other which is like, since 2007 maybe? Even though we aren’t in each other’s lives actively, this is the one time a year we get an update on how we are doing.

She often gets upset if I’m dry as if she still had some sort of entitlement to me being super sweet to her? Which is not even the worst thing, because every time I apologize and I reassure her I’m not mad at her and consequently act sweeter in our brief yearly exchanges, either way WHATEVER I don’t want to talk about it anymore lmaooooo!

Before you go! Autostraddle runs on the reader support of our AF+ Members. If this article meant something to you today — if it informed you or made you smile or feel seen, will you consider joining AF and supporting the people who make this queer media site possible?

Join AF+!

the team

auto has written 714 articles for us.


  1. I have a knack for remembering birthdays, so I still remember those of most of the people I went to primary school with. Sometimes I’m like ‘I feel like there’s something about today that I’m forgetting’ and then later I realize it’s the birthday of a former classmate..

  2. My best friend for the last two years of high school was born on March 4th. I remember this because she would insist that it was the only date in the entire calendar that was also a sentence, i.e., “March forth!” I pointed out that “March first!” is also a sentence, as is, for that matter, “March Twentieth!” We did not remain friends after high school, but every fourth of March I remember her and how she was wrong and how I had to correct her instead of just letting her enjoy her version of things, so the day comes with a twinge of regret that I’m not a nicer person.

    • I also may have pointed out that, since questions are also sentences, “May one?” etc. also qualify. I was a pedant then and now and I don’t have a lot of friends.

  3. I don’t think about birthdays a lot, but not a year goes by that I don’t think about my childhood dog every time I see her birthday (August 3) in the calendar. She passed away in 2002.

    I’m kind of glad I never knew my abusive ex’s birthday*, because I’d hate to be triggered by the calendar.

    * We were together for two years, but he didn’t know his own actual birthday due to some immigration/calendar/disinterested parents issue.

  4. I still wish my high school ex a happy birthday every year (it’s tomorrow!) and Nov 13th is probably always going to be a heavy date in my heart.
    An awful abusive person’s birthday is the day after my best friend’s birthday which caused a lot of emotional whiplash for me in high school. Now I…hardly ever think about it, really.

  5. I remember my childhood best friend’s birthday to this day. Because mine is September 28 and his is March 28, so we have opposite birthdays which somebody told me means we are supposed to be enemies? Mainly I remember though because my mom’s birthday is April 28 and she said we were all in the 28 Club. Anyway. We havent spoken since i think 6th grade when his building burned down and he had to move, but at some point in the past decade he friended me on facebook and I followed his instagram, and it’s clear as day that we have nothing in common and no need to ever say another word to each other, but i remember his birthday and am glad that he’s doing well.

  6. I don’t remember birthdays (I have a friend WITH MY SAME BIRTHDAY! Guess how often I’ve forgotten), but I will always remember my first elementary school best friend’s phone number, even though she chose the mean girl path come third grade. Peace be with you, pal! I wonder if that’s still your parents’ number!

  7. P.S. I would read the heck out of an Interview with my Ex…Friend between Heather and that other queer artist!

  8. I had a dream last night that I met a set of twins who were born the day before me, then I woke up and read this post about birthdays and birthday twins. (I also dreamt that I had lush, glossy, cat-fur-like hair growing on my legs, so if you publish a post about body hair today I’m going to assume you’ve been mining my subconscious.)

    Anyway, I have several people who I used to be close to but then we dwindled down over the years to just texting or emailing each other on our birthdays, and in the last year or so I’ve decided to let go of that (and they seem to have too). But I still think of them on or around their respective days. Also my brother passed away on his birthday, which was a week and a half after mine, so that’s always a roller coaster time of year for me.

  9. I’ll always remember the birthday of the girl who sat next to me in homeroom in 9th grade, July 16th, because it was the day that the 6th Harry Potter book was released, and I remember being so completely jealous of her that such an event was happening on her birthday.

  10. Am I the only person who ALWAYS remembers birthdays? Like, I remember EVERYONE’S birthday – every girl in my friend group from elementary school, every person I’ve ever dated or seriously crushed on. So it’s not surprising or strange when I remember someones birthday, it doesn’t really mean much.

    • Definitely not! My brain holds onto all kinds of random things, including birthdays. (Do I really need to know the birthdays of people I haven’t seen in 30 years?)

  11. I remeber an ex friends birthday cause it’s on 4/20, but that’s an ease one to forget. I also remember an ex’s birthday cause for some unknown reason can’t delete her number off my phone, but also her birthday is on the last day of Spring.

  12. I don’t remember the birthday of anybody I went to school with. Except my twin sister. I do know all of my dogs birthdays.
    I still know the birthday of one of my exes. We were both Leos and I thought we would be together forever. I always think of her on her birthday.

  13. Now What’s the Use of Feeling (Blue) is stuck in my head. Such a good song!

    I’m the absolute worst with birthdays. I needed mnemonic devices to remember my parents’ birthdays until I was in high school, ffs. I love the idea of birthdays, but numbers and I are mortal enemies!!

    I’ve known one of my oldest friends for over 15 years and every year I think her birthday is in November instead of October and fail to wish her happy birthday in time. The only thing I can tell you is that in high school I knew like five people who were born on May 12, but now I can’t remember who most of them were (except my first adolescent love, bless them). I’m not at all proud of this trait.

  14. Two weeks ago I forgot my own child’s birthday in front of a medical professional. They were surprised. I was not.
    Safe to say I do not remember any random birthdays.

  15. my dog and my mom have the same birthday and despite my mom owning that birthday for twenty more years of my life than my dog, i remember Hank’s first. read into my relationship w my mother as you will

  16. This weekend was the 30th birthday of my very best friend that I had a falling out with only last month (well, the final fallout, after months of unsolvable arguments and tears). I spent all day thinking about it and ended up letting my roommate text them birthday wishes so it didn’t go 100% unacknowledged. I’m still miserable, but it was nice to read this post and hope that maybe one day it will be a wistful remembrance instead of a horrible ache of hurt.

  17. My Ex-Girlfriend’s birthday is the day before mine, there’s really no way to forget that. January 23th. The birthday I hate I still remember is my best friend’s from high school. We kind of had a bad friend-break up after many years being very close. I wish I had hope I’d just forget it one day, but I still remember so many birthdays even from elementary school so I probably just won’t. So here’s to March 20th.

  18. Carrie, did you date my ex-best friend?? Her birthday is also Bastille Day and she always made a big deal about it. We had a very dramatic falling out about 4 years ago because her boyfriend was racist to me! Good times.

    I’ll always remember my ex-boyfriend’s birthday (September 17) purely out of spite because he was so bad at remembering my birthday.

  19. I have more birthday twins than anyone I know and I remember all of them. I’ve even got a mental list of folks born the day before mine as in middle school there were several and we’d jok about the fluidity of time and how wwe could still be birthday twins if our birth-times were less than 24 hours apart.

    I’ll always remember my last real boyfriend due to the discovery of Flag Day, my college best friend’s loathing as Star Wars Day outshown him, and my ex-queerplatonic best friends birthday as it nearly bookends our friendship, 2011 to 2014.

  20. I’m still in touch with a couple friends that I grew up with and remember their birthdays, but the weird ones that have lodged themselves in there are the girl I was bffs with in like 2nd-5th grade (It’s October 3rd!), the boy I had an all-consuming crush on in 6th and 7th grade (June 7th), and the girl who was one of my best friends and whose heart I broke and later had a horrible falling out with junior year (June 13th). I definitely get a little ping of recognition on those days every year even after all this time. Brains are funny.

Comments are closed.