Surprises

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This week was my birthday. A “milestone” birthday that everyone else thinks is significant, but I was not planning on making a big deal of it. I don’t consider it that much of a huge accomplishment to reach the age of 40. It’s not like I did anything except take reasonably good care of myself and not get hit by a bus.

My wife, however, had different ideas.

On Tuesday, she contacted me at work and asked if I wanted to go to our favorite fast casual restaurant for dinner. Of course, I agreed. It’s tasty and we had a coupon for a free entree. So she picked me up at the Metro and we had dinner and it was nice. When we got home, I was putting my leftovers in the fridge when I turned around to see a bunch of cards hanging from the chandelier in our dining room.

Now, it’s not unknown for my wife to do fun things with stuff like this. I thought she probably just thought it would be fun to spruce things up a bit and hang the cards from ribbons on the chandelier instead of placing them on the top of the piano like we normally do. We have plenty of ribbon that we are unlikely to use anytime soon, and so that was one fun thing to do with it. On the table was a small box, too. And then she brought out a cake. Yay! It’s a little birthday at home. I am content.

Then I start looking at the cards and the box more closely. The cards are not from the usual places. I don’t have family in Boston. Or Alabama. And there’s far more than family members. That’s a lot of cards. The box has an airmail sticker on the outside and it’s a bit beat up, as if it went a long way. And it was sent from Australia. Huh? What’s going on here.

So I start taking them off of the chandelier and see that they are from all over the place. Some have names, some don’t. I start to realize that there’s been a conspiracy here. My wife has contacted many of our online friends and they have sent cards for my birthday. This is really awesome. People from California, Ohio, Texas, Colorado, Utah, Massachusetts, Oregon, Florida, Alabama and others took the time to find a card, write something nice in it and send it. My wife held onto all of them for days.

Oh, and the box from Australia? Chocolate that you can only get there. Cadbury Footy Bites and two, count them, two!, packages of Tim Tams that you can’t get in the U.S. This is awesome!

And so monday ends and I am happy, my wife is tickled pink and quite proud of herself for pulling this off. Yes, she is quite proud of herself. And it’s well deserved. And you see that there is more blog post here. Let’s continue…

Wednesday!

Kate picks me up at the Metro again, we have a doctor’s appointment. In the car is another box! And an Express Mail envelope! These are obviously latecomers, of which we knew we’d have a few.

The express mail envelope is surprising. Someone spent almost $20 to send a card for me. Brian, really, you could have waited. I open the express mail envelope and inside is a beat-to-hell wrinkled-up yellow greeting card envelope. Inside is a card and it has a monkey on it. This is not surprising seeing as this is a fellow Jonathan Coulton fan. Then I open the card. And it’s signed by Jonathan Coulton. With an added message “Not enough monkeys!”. This. is. AWESOME! Wow. I am floored.

In the box is an equally cool gift. It’s from our friends Tara and Sean in Utah who know I have an affinity for the space program. In the box, along with a lovely card (Tara does have a way with words) and a little space rocket toy. I look at it more closely and it’s a ballpoint pen in the shape of an Ares rocket. And, to top it off, it’s spring loaded and it launches! I can’t wait to open this up. I think I’ll take it to work and keep it on my desk. If someone needs a pen, I’ll say, “Ok, stand back and get ready to catch. 3…2…1… Liftoff!” I tried it this weekend and launching it from the dining room table, it comes within a foot of hitting the top of our 9 foot ceilings.

And so I get a second day of birthday excitement and fun.

Thursday! Friday!

Not much happens on thursday and friday. We’re cleaning house looking forward to a visit from our friends Thera and Josh as they drive back home from the beach.

Saturday!

So Thera and Josh arrive. I’m cooking something for my lunch this week. And it’s cooling on the stove when they arrive.

At some poing, they remember that they have some stuff in the car that needs to be put into the fridge. I go outside and help get the stuff out of the car, I return to put the stuff in the fridge and as I come out of the kitchen, I see someone in the grass outside out patio and I thought it was workmen or some neighbors or kids walking by. So I look out the window more closely and I see a t-shirt that I recognize from JoCo Cruise Crazy 2 and Molly. The person in the t-shirt ducks behind a wall, but I can still see Molly out there.

I turn to Josh and say “Josh, what’s going on here?”

“I don’t know anything“, he replies.What’s going on here. Why is Molly outside my patio?

I glance outside again and I see people carrying stuff. Nerds. Carrying stuff! “Josh, what is going on?”

“Really, I don’t know anything about this!”

So at this point I realize that my wife has organized something. Again. I go into the back room, and I say “Kate, What did you do?!”

She calls back through the door, “I’m in the bathroom!”

So I go back outside and Josh is still in the living room, Thera is nowhere to be found, and there are still a dozen nerds on my back porch. I’m shocked and surprised and finally open the door and start letting people in. Suddenly there are a dozen sea monkeys in our condo carrying food and drinks and snacks, salad and cake and all sorts of things. A card is shoved in my hand. A gift bag. A large gift bag. Wow.

Needless to say, I’m still shocked and still surprised but I soon realize that our little living room and dining area won’t hold this many people. So I say “Let’s move the couch over here” and like some sort of domestic Transformer, the room is suddenly reconfigured to hold more people. Kate is bringing out chairs and people are settling down and I’m floored.

Presents are opened, games are played, cake is eaten, everyone has a good time and I thanked numerous times for getting older and giving everyone a reason to have a party.

After all this, Kate asks me some questions about how the day went. And she makes the point that sometimes things are celebrated in ways that you don’t expect it and that sometimes the things you expect aren’t the things you want. And that sometimes things that you don’t want to celebrate should be celebrated anyway because they are important as much as you don’t want to admit it.

This week I turned 40 years old. I don’t feel it, people tell me I don’t look it, I hope I don’t act it (except at work). But what really happened is that I got to spend this week with someone who loves me in ways I am still learning about, and I got to celebrate it a second time with an amazing group of friendly, kind, generous and amazing people.

Who could ask for more, really?