I returned from France Tuesday night and my birthday was yesterday. I spent much of it sweating in front of an oscillating fan in ninety-five degree heat wondering why I don’t just go live in Paris. All I wanted for my birthday was for J to come home from work so we could install the window air conditioning units. I felt like I was 25, back when I didn’t even have a/c and was so broke I suffered through it and felt noble. An online quiz I took yesterday said my real age is 42. So I’m somewhere in between my impoverished days of enduring the summer heat and my online spirit quiz age: I turned 37. And in honor of that I received what has got to be the best birthday message ever. Birthdays might be about growing older, but they’re also about human connection, people reaching out. They offer us, usually in small, simple ways, opportunities to be reminded of the people in our lives who love us and whom we love. And I’m lucky. In the midst of jet lag and the insufferable heat, my best friend sent me a message that recounted treasured memories and shared things I never knew. It made me smile and laugh and want to strive in the coming year to really become the person she already thinks I am. What a gift. Excerpts below.
“Dear, dear Bill,
I wanted to remind you of a few things your presence on earth has made possible for me. You are a joy, and it is a privilege to call you my friend. I would not be the person I am without you. Without you I wouldn’t have:
- had the courage to come out in college.
- rocked the concrete.
- laughed so hard I actually peed myself a little…and more than once.
- survived my family.
- learned to love my family.
- taken the chance and gotten married.
- made it through my divorce and come out a ton better on the far side.
- done a hurkey in the middle of Ptown.
- learned to write for the sake of curiousness and exploration.
- come to accept myself as I am.
- become a good storyteller.
- known so many amazing people…like the ones we’re going on vacation with in a month!
- known that I can be amazing, too.
- clipped the wings of a chicken.
- laughed every time I think of fake meat and its being on sale.
- started saying “I did” in a particularly Southern accent and picturing China Town, SF.
- been the me that I am.”