Things are pretty dire right now. My unemployment has ended, and today I am placing my beloved bird Cricket in a new home. If I let myself think about it all more than a couple seconds I melt into a puddle of fear and sadness.
So I need to focus on a good thing for at least a few moments.
have a history of being a sad bastard on my birthday. It's always been
less about getting older (though that is becoming more of a factor
these days) and mTore about having way too many expectations and then
being disappointed when no one lives up to them. (The month is still
young, however, and there is still time for me to catch up!)
was, though, the year (2008? I think it was?) my old book club and my
friend D.P., in particular, had the sweetest and most thoughtful little
surprise celebration for me at our monthly meeting. I still have the
origami cranes from that. And the melted record album bowl. And the
cards. Because it was one of the nicest things anyone has ever done for
Ivan called me from
work on Thursday, breathless with excitement. I was surprised, because
usually when he calls from work he sounds much more tired. He started
telling me what all errands he'd run during a couple hours he had off
earlier in the afternoon, and then he burst in with, "and I got you
He told me all about how he had wanted to
find me something so special, something that could possibly convey the
depth of his love ("That's a lot of expectations for one present," I
pointed out as he shushed my skepticism.)
"I went to
Haight Street," he said, "because there are so many weird goddamn shops
close together that I figured if I was going to find something for you
it would be there." I rolled my eyes. "Did you know there's a store
there for Edwardian fashion? Like, nice stuff. I bet they only get
customers one time a year..."
"Halloween," I broke in, just as he said, "Burning man."
he continued, "I went from store to store. I even went into the
Edwardian place. Who knows? Maybe they have something for you in
there. But I couldn't find anything. I could find anything just
right. That said what I wanted to say. I gave up. Honey, I had given
up! And then I saw it. Out of the corner of my eye. There it was!"
"What, in a window?" I asked.
went on to tell me about how the store clerk had been so helpful to him
as they examined his options. My curiosity grew and grew.
going to love it!" he promised. "You're going to know instantly why I
got it for you and you're going to understand what you mean to me."
was dramatic language even for Ivan. I could barely disguise my doubt
and disbelief, though I was completely intrigued by whatever item he
thought could accomplish all this.
He wasn't done.
I'm going to prove you wrong over what you said at Christmas. How you
said I didn't get you at all. I do get you! I get you and I love you
so much! You mean so much to me. Do you want it now? Yes! Let me
give it to you now! I don't think I can wait."
completely blown away by the level of enthusiasm he was showing for this
(and it doesn't even involve Warhammer!) but I said, "Look. You would
not believe the history I have for negotiating my presents early. But I
want to wait for this one. Things have been so hard for so long for us
and my birthdays usually feel so crappy to me that it would be really
nice to have something to look forward to on my birthday."
was doubtful and pointed out that he had to work on my birthday and I
would be home alone with the baby. I knew that, though. And I don't
even need the present. The thought and effort that he put into really
touched me, and this birthday, in one of the last days that I will be
able to stay home with my girl before something--one way or
another--changes. This is enough.