09 March 2011

Wildcard Wednesday

Having decided that Wacky Wednesday wasn't working, I've switched Wednesdays to Wildcard Wednesday.  On Wednesdays, you never know what you'll find me talking about.  It could be a rehash of something I talked about earlier in the week, it could be a bunch of pictures, it could be more swapping things... you just never know.

Today, I'm going to talk about birthdays.

On Friday, I'm going to be 37.  It's strange how birthdays have changed as I've gotten older.  I still remember the excitement that birthdays brought when I was a kid.  I was excited to open present, be able to have tacos for dinner and cake for dessert.  I would ask my mom to order an ice cream cake from my best friends' parents' ice cream store.  I'd have a friend or two over for my birthday and (usually) a sleep over.  And I almost was never in school during it because my birthday always seemed to fall around spring break.

It also always fell around the time of the school musical in Downsville and I ended up with strep throat a week or two before it every year.  But those didn't matter.  I was still getting older.  I was 10!  I was 13!  I was living in Florida when I turned 16 and got to have my first large birthday party.  Another best friend, Noelle, made a jello cake for my birthday and it melted in my fridge.  My step-mom never stopped mentioning that one with a chuckle.

Birthdays were still exciting in college, though I again didn't get to celebrate much because of spring break.  By the time I turned 21, I was out of college.  I still remember the party my boyfriend at the time and I had.  I wonder if the people that cleaned that hotel room are still wondering what was going on.

I remember when I was in my early 20s and got together with my college (and after) best friend, Carmen.  We went to Bennigan's for dinner and the waiter refused to believe that I was actually 23 that day.  Had to show him my driver's license.  It sure made me feel good.  When Carm turned 25, I picked on her for being a 1/4 century old.  When I turned 25, she turned around and did the same.  (There's only 9 months between us.)

One of the best birthdays I ever had was my 29th birthday.  Rich and I were engaged and living in Philadelphia.  My friend Dave was surprising his wife/my heart-sister with a weekend away at a bed and breakfast.  I'd talked him into coming to Philly for it to help celebrate my birthday.  We invited our friend, Sal, to join us for a good birthday dinner.  What I didn't know was that the guys were bringing in another of my best friends (I had a lot, didn't I?).  Sal flew Cristi in from Michigan and Cristi's boyfriend, Patrick, drove over from Rhode Island.  I had no idea it was happening until Sal opened the door to get his present for me and there stood Cristi.  I have some of the most wonderful memories from that evening.  The 7 of us went to a local restaurant called Rx (which was in a former pharmacy) and drank 3 bottles of wine.  We took quite a few pictures, laughed, talked and just had so much fun.

The next year was a bittersweet birthday.  One week before my 30th birthday, Cristi had an epileptic seizure while emptying the bathtub after her kids' bath and drowned.  I was devastated.  I wasn't able to fly out for the funeral and I really didn't want to think about my birthday at all.  Rich and our friend Wayne had been planning on throwing me a surprise birthday party at one of our local hangouts.  I convinced them to turn it into a wake for Crisit.  While there was some celebration of my birthday, it was mostly remembering Cristi.  We had the wake at a place called Eulogy, in one of their specialty rooms called the coffin room.  The guy behind the counter looked at me strange when I told him we wanted to have a wake there, but I told him that Cristi would have gotten a kick out of it.  I know she would have.

Since then, birthdays have been ok.  Nothing super special, but nothing bad either.  I haven't been dreading growing older, because I still feel young at heart.  I don't lie about my age - I like the fact that I'm getting older and (somewhat) wiser.  Theres's nothing wrong with having lived 37 years.  As the quote goes (paraphrased badly), it's not bad getting older when you think of the alternatives.

I'm not yet sure what my birthday will bring this year.  Rich and the boys went out shopping for my birthday gifts last night.  I'm excited to find out what they'll be, but not so excited that I want to try to trick the boys into telling me.  Rich doesn't have tutoring or teaching that night, and the boys have PDO during the day, which will give me some alone time to enjoy my day.  It's going to be a good day, I suspect.

It's funny, because when I started writing this, I was convinced that I was going to write about how, as I'm getting closer to 40, the number of my age is depressing me more and more.  But right now, it's not.  Right now, I'm ok with the fact that I'll be 37.  I'm ok with the ever approaching 40.  I'm ok with getting older and having more experience under my belt.  Because age really isn't that bad of a thing.  I did one of my swaps today, my 15 quotes swap, on birthday quotes.  And one of the quotes that I chose was from Abraham Lincoln.  "And in the end, it's not the years in your life that count.  It's the life in your years."  And I've had a pretty good life in these past 37 years.