I’m getting better about my birthday. I used to promote its arrival ad nauseam. And in addition to that annoying habit, I created in my mind a level of expectation for birthday bliss that could never be reached. What was I looking for, exactly? I don’t know. And that was probably part of the problem. How can you please someone who doesn’t even know what they want?
And then there’s the whole issue of the co-birthday in our house. Sharing a birthday with Ryan started out as kind of a cute coincidence, but quickly got old. No more having a day all to yourself. The shared birthday is a challenge because we’re always trying to come up with a birthday activity that pleases us equally. Without fail, every year one of us will suggest that we go bowling. I don’t know why. Neither of us is a bowling enthusiast. Maybe it’s because we have equal feelings about bowling—completely neutral. We neither love it nor hate it.
I used to get pouty and whiny about all of this birthday stuff, but I’m learning with every passing year that birthdays are just not that big of a deal. (Can you hear the collective sigh of all of my friends and family?) Which is why, on Sunday night (Birthday Eve), when we were ricocheting around the house wondering how we might celebrate our birthday, I was only mildly bothered that we were on the brink of yet another indecisive celebration.
Enter surprise number one. Ryan passed my cell phone charging on the counter and noticed that I had a message. He brought the phone to me and told me that Alyssa had called and wanted me to call her back. I called her cell phone and she answered right away.
“Hey! Happy Birthday Eve!” she said.
“What are you doing tonight?” she asked.
“Why? ARE YOU IN TOWN?”
“I am! I got in Friday night.”
“SHUT UP!” (Which is the street way of saying, “Are you serious?!”)
A couple hours later, my friend from 57th Street was at my doorstep with a birthday gift—a darling tote and a chocolate bar from a swanky shop we visited on my trip in December. But my best gift wasn’t in the box. I asked her if she’d teach me once again (in my own kitchen this time) how to make her masterful gourmet Red Velvet Cupcakes. She agreed and we spent the next several hours baking, talking, laughing, frosting, eating, and talking some more.
Talk about a wonderful surprise!
The second surprise came Monday morning. After sleeping in and getting a bit of work done in the morning, Ryan’s phone rang. It was his season ticket agent from the Jazz. She calls from time to time to offer him lower bowl seats and other random perks. But this time she was calling to ask how his basketball skills are, because she wanted to invite him to participate in the Skills Challenge during one of the time outs at the Jazz game Tuesday night.
Ryan said he’d do it and after he got off the phone, he came into the bathroom where I was getting ready for the birthday festivities.
“Geez, I’m in a mess,” he said with the biggest grin.
The rest of the day was spent calling all his siblings and some of mine to let them know, securing tickets for those of us who wanted to be in attendance, talking about how best to handle the pressure, and (of course) some serious physical training over at the church gym. I did not attend the training session. Christian and Mr. Smith took charge and ran him through a rigorous practice.
James had a few pointers for him, including wearing a Jazz speedo underneath a break-away warm up suit to be revealed when he entered the court. He also suggested that Ryan do some showboat moves, such as leaving his arm suspended in the air after shooting and then backpedaling around the court. There was also a recommendation to rip off his shirt (if he chose to wear one) and throw it into the crowd if he won. Actually, I think that recommendation came from me.
We had a great time planning all the possible ways to perform the Skills Challenge, but Ryan eventually decided to play it safe. Here he is, starring in Birthday Surprise II, just a few hours ago. (He’s the one who starts on the bottom left side of the screen. Forgive the crappy camera work.)
Yep, he won! His prize was a $100 gift certificate to a local sports store. And, yep, that’s me screaming, “Woooo! That’s my husband!” to all the people around me. Which is the exact same thing I did after his job talks in Delaware and California.
You know those people who say that whatever you’re doing on your birthday will predict the year to come? (OK, nevermind that nobody says that about birthdays.) Well, if the last few days are any indication, this is going to be a year of unexpected moments of pure delight.
Happy birthday to him and to me. Thanks to our family and friends (especially Mr. and Mrs. Smith and Alyssa) for spending time with us in person or by phone. And thanks, once again, to all of you for your birthday well-wishing! Here’s to another great year.