I’ve had some really awesome birthdays. I like gifts, and my husband and my kids can be incredibly kind, thoughtful, creative and generous gift-givers. I love having a day to celebrate myself, as ridiculously selfish as that sounds – but it gives me an excuse to quit doing stuff and just be, and I need a good reason to do that now and then.
I also get to celebrate my birthday every year with my dad – born May 17. I can’t remember a time that we didn’t have a joint birthday celebration – usually a great meal and good conversation at Mom and Dad’s – because that’s just what our family does.
Tonight was no exception. We missed Sarah and Max, who will be here soon (but not soon enough!) The rest of us gathered for burgers and great conversation, anecdotes about our earliest memories and recollections. That made for fascinating and insightful conversation!
My mom and I had gone shopping about a month ago, and she bought something for me that we deemed an early birthday gift. Tony and I did the same – made an agreement that a gift I’d wanted a few weeks ago would be my birthday gift – so there were no huge, surprising, over-the-top presents. Instead, here’s how my birthday went.
First, I slept in. That was nice. I awoke to a fresh pot of coffee and three of the four kids in the house.
Plus, there was this:
Next, Tony said, “I’ll be back in 30 minutes. Get dressed and be ready to go.”
When he returned, I requested that our mode of transportation be his Harley, and he said Yes. It’s my favorite spot for letting things go; I ride on the back, look at the sky, feel the wind in my hair and the sun on my skin and forget the million things on my to-do list. It’s a gift, for sure.
We rode under the clear blue sky of a perfect day. Breakfast at noon, because that’s how we roll – preceded by a mocha milkshake, because that’s also how we roll. A visit to the Olive Oil Tap Room, where I tasted ice cream with dark chocolate balsamic vinegar (Tony has yet to recover) and bought myself a gift for future cooking experiments.
We rode to Riverside Drive and got a wonderfully scenic tour of the James River. With the bike safely tucked in the parking lot, we slipped down to the river’s edge and watched the Saturday crowd on the rocks of Pony Pasture. I pulled off my boots and sat with my toes in the water and just thought about life…and water…and history. Funny how a flowing river connects the long line of life and generations past to a woman perched on an rock, contemplating her day of birth.
We cruised back to Barnes & Noble and found gifts for my dad. Thirsty, we wandered out into the food court for a drink. Everyone knows the mall is a great place for people-watching, and we did just that for a while, until I started to feel the need for a nap.
“I’m tired”, I said, “and I think I’m ready for a nap.”
And here’s the proof that I’m past fifty and don’t really care what anybody thinks anymore: I laid my head on the pillow of my purse, right there on the table in the mall food court, and I took a nap.
It was a power nap; I woke up in 15 minutes to see Tony looking pretty sleep as well.
“I really fell asleep.” I surprised myself.
He said, “I know.”
“Look at us.”
We both laughed.
And then we walked outside, got on the Harley, and rode home.
At 52, it’s about what you do and how you feel, and the sheer pleasure of not giving a hoot about what anybody else thinks.
We celebrated with food and laughter and cards and gifts at Mom’s. Sydni surprised me with a gift prompted by a mystery friend from PCC and her exquisite graphic skills.
It’s been a very, very good day, and I am thankful for it.
I’ll add that I’ve greatly enjoyed the Facebook birthday wishes I received. Obviously, we all know how it works – we get prompted to wish somebody ‘happy birthday’, and we do so for various reasons. But regardless of why, my Facebook feed blew up today, and each birthday wish came with a name attached, reminding me of a season of life or a precious relationship. In some cases, long-forgotten memories flooded back, prompted by names that represented places and times and connections and even a few bittersweet memories. I smiled, time and time again, filled with gratitude for the gift of life and years of connections.
Life is good. It is rich and dense with opportunity. Not always easy, it is still filled with purpose and meaning. On my birthday, it’s a gift to remember it all.
|A favorite perspective.|
|Olive Oil Tap Room. Interesting!|
|At the river.|