Saturday, October 14, 2006

A Surprise Birthday Party

My birthday —that once a year celebration—that gift of exuberant life: an iris with breakfast, a helium filled balloon announcing my birthday in purple lettering, wrapped gifts, and a card filled with love. Add to that the sun, blue sky, a perfect cup of coffee, an afternoon spent walking in a sculpture garden and finding spots of exquisite beauty—the way the sun illuminated orange and yellow blades of a plant or a stone carving that pulsated and then dinner with friends.

Once I had a surprise birthday party. Perhaps it wasn’t a party because one thinks of a large extravaganza with hoards of people hidden in nooks and crannies all waiting to pile out screeching happy birthday. Mine was a subdued affair—mid-afternoon in the middle of the week.

I taught twenty minutes away from home and on the day of my birthday I left school shortly after the 2:40 pm busses left. When I arrived home I found the table in the kitchen decorated with a festive paper tablecloth, a birthday centerpiece, plates with a cake design, and matching napkins and paper cups. My daughter Elyse, twelve at the time, had also festooned the room with garlands and balloons.

We ate cupcakes, drank milk, and talked. We both tried, for the afternoon—tried to understand one another.


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