(In 1982, having your birthday party at the roller rink was the epitome of awesome!)
Friday was my 36th birthday. And to be honest, I wasn’t putting much thought into it one or another.
Yet my friends and family were putting thought into it, it turns out. My sister orchestrated a lovely little surprise birthday party for me on Friday night!
For about a week or so, my Mom and sister were both saying we could do a quiet little dinner at my sister’s house for my birthday. Ever since my Mom lost her job, her money has been extra tight and she had told me already that she couldn’t afford to take us out to dinner this year, which has been the tradition for decades now. Of course, dinner wasn’t important to me. It’s just dinner, and there was no way I’d want to put my Mom in a spot where she might have felt obligated to keep up with tradition. I even offered that we just do a Dutch treat dinner, but instead my sister offered to make a nice Italian dinner at her house on my birthday instead. That sounded fine.
I briefly wondered if I should throw myself a party, just to do it. But I’ve just been preoccupied with the marathon training and working on my book. My birthday kind of crept up quietly and by the time I realized “oh yeah, my birthday is in a week” it was too late to pull something together. And frankly, I didn’t feel like dealing with the hassle. So, no party.
People asked me last week what I was doing for my birthday, and I almost felt apologetic when I’d answer, “Nothing, actually. And that’s what I want.” People like birthdays (and adults like them the most when they aren’t our own). I made a point to get it across that I wasn’t being emo, or anything like that. I’m just not into the birthday thing much. That’s all it is. And if anyone wanted to do something nice for me, I hoped they’d consider making a donation to my paltry fundraising account. End of story.
On Friday, though, everyone surprised me. I think when you legitimately don’t expect anything, it’s cool how even the smallest gestures mean so much!
My coworker Mary made cupcakes for me and we all enjoyed them throughout the day. RaeAnn gave me a wrapped gift– three antique candleholders and a gorgeous candy dish. I got a card from my boss with a Barnes & Noble gift card inside, and a couple other friends gave me cards. I even loved the card signed by everyone in my department, which is the typical thing we do for everyone so it’s not really special, but on Friday, it felt special to me. Later, RaeAnn and two other coworkers of mine took me to lunch. I’d picked a Mexican restaurant I really like because I knew I’d be having Italian for dinner, of course. We had such a nice time, and R wouldn’t let me pay, even though I totally tried to. They had the waiters sing happy birthday to me and they made them bring out the birthday sombrero. I went along with it, even if I did feel that usual level of embarrassment we all get when crap like happens in the restaurant. It’s too bad I don’t like fried ice cream more, because they gave me a plate of it. (I passed it along the table after giving it a try.) After that? We hunted for “treasures” in the Goodwill next door to the restaurant. R and I do that about once a week anyway, anymore, but it was fun to bring L and J along. No real treasures were found on that trip, but it was still goofy fun.
So I had a nice day at work. I didn’t get my work finished, though, which sucked. I was just distracted and the day flew by very fast. When I got home, I had a couple of hours before dinner at my sister’s house, so after I did a few little things around the house, I laid down and took a nap. (That morning, I’d done my training workout before work, of course, and I’m still getting wiped out during the day. My body is protesting this change to my sleeping patterns and then all this new exertion, I guess!)
I got up and got changed back into my clothes from work that day, since they were fine for just hanging out at my sister’s house. We’d planned to go see X-Men: First Class after dinner, so I brought my movie cup and opted to leave Hurley home, since I’d only be leaving him at her house while we were at the movies, anyway. T had asked me to text her when I was leaving the house to head over, so she could put the water on for the fettuccine. Just as I was finishing up with locking the house up to leave, she called me to see when I was leaving. I was running a little later than I’d expected, but it didn’t seem like a big deal… we were just having dinner, like we’ve done a bunch of times.
I pulled up to her house, right behind my Mom’s car at the front curb. I went to the front door and it was unlocked, like it usually is when I go over to T’s house. I walk in, and…
Mom, T and BIL were there… and so were six of my closest friends! I jumped up and down in legitimate happiness and surprise, which is not like me. But it meant so much to me, all at once, to think that they put this together for me. T had, in fact, prepared that Italian dinner she’d talked about, and everyone seemed so happy to be there. And all of them had to drive for awhile to get there, too… everyone was from the west side of town, except for Heather, who drove up from Tucson to be there! Wow. That was so cool. I was really touched that they would do that for me. And THEN, totally unnecessarily, they had gifts for me, too. (T had even indicated that no gifts were expected or necessary, but people did it, anyway.) Again, WOW. Not only did I have a little party in my honor, they were giving me things, too? How cool! It made me feel like a little kid again, in a way. (And the gifts were so thoughtful, too. Bossypants (yay!) and the last season of Tim & Eric on DVD. A gift card to Roadrunner Sports, another for Amazon; more neat candleholders and a sweet pair of PJs from my sister. Hurley got a gift, too– a toy Mr. Bill that I’m claiming for myself because he’s not into toys all that much, and I love Mr. Bill!)
And there was a chocolate cake. With candles. And the singing of happy birthday and everything. So nice and sweet!
Later, Heather came back to my house to stay for the night. She loves Hurley, and got to have some quality time with the little guy before we went to sleep. The next morning, we had breakfast with T before she headed back down to Tucson. It was such a neat, unexpected surprise… and today, Sunday, I’m still marveling about it.
I suspected NOTHING. That’s so cool! Even when I pulled up to T’s house, there were no extra cars parked near the house or anything to set me off. It turned out everyone was spread about along the street, but I didn’t notice at all. My family is awesome at planning this stuff. I loved it!
So it turned out to be a lovely birthday. Like I said, I wasn’t expecting anything and was totally content with that fact, which made everything else meaningful as hell. I have a nice life, you know? I can step back a few paces and take a look at all the blessings I have and where I am, mentally and now physically, and I feel very good about it. I’ve come a very long way in my life to get to this particular point, and I’m grateful. That’s the long and the short of it. There’s no reason to go all eloquent and wordy when the reality is so appreciated and simple. I’m enjoying my life. I couldn’t always say that. But it’s kind of true, now. Weird, right? But that’s just how I feel right now!
So, here is to a healthy year with my family and friends, my pets, my books, my running “thing”… and feeling good being the person I turned out to be. Everything else is icing on the cake, as the cliche goes.
Thank you for being part of my life… If you’re reading this, it’s because I shared this URL with you, and I only do that with people I trust and care about. So thank you for being you, too. Mazel tov to all of us, then! Yay!