There comes a point on your actual birthday where people ask you the birthday questions. “Sooooo, how does it feel?” I don’t like this question. It’s right up there with, “Did everything come out okay?” when returning from the bathroom (my father asked me both questions all my life). “Get anything good?” “Feel any older?” Blah. Blah. Now, “what did you wish for last year?” is an interesting question, though few of us remember. This birthday, I want to wish for something I’ll remember.
Last year, my friends threw me a birthday party at Pop Burger. There were too many people, so I wasn’t able to really connect with anyone, so worried about showing my appreciation to all those who made it out. This year, I wanted to make certain I’d be sans stress and with some of my favorite people. I wanted intimate. It doesn’t get more intimate than skinny dipping, now does it?
Friday night we went to Madam Tong’s and practically ordered the entire menu. The wine selections were clearly favorites of mine. Sauvignon Blanc and a kickass Rioja. “Clearly” because I drank enough to be photographed wearing a spoon. I left with Heather on my arm singing Fiddler on The Roof songs. “For Pappa, make him a scholar. For Mamma, make him rich as a king. For me, well, I wouldn’t argue if he were as handsome as any-thing!” The boys knew it was time for us to leave. We returned to the house, where I practically fell asleep in a closet. Good times.
Saturday morning, I headed to King Kullen with Phil and Derek while the rest of the house was asleep. I received a text message from ADAM saying he left Boston at 3am and should be arriving soon. I might have screamed. I rarely get to see Adam, but when I do, I am at my happiest and most comfortable. He’s like soup and over sized socks. Back at the house, the boys play tennis, why the rest of us do bagels poolside. Monique phones from Philadelphia, “I’m sorry I can’t come. Amtrak isn’t running.” I wanted to cry. I LOVE Monique. LOVE. Whenever she’s in town, I say the same thing. “Phil, I need to go. Monique will be there, and I LOVE HER.”
He rolls his eyes. “You love everyone.” This is not true. Though it seems true. Especially at the wine tasting come afternoon.
We lounged by the pool shoveling in homemade guacamole courtesy of Derek, sipping darling cocktails courtesy of Cocktails By Jenn. The appletini was my favorite. I watched Jen OCD out, trying to remove the bugs floating in the hot tub. Kim looked like my brown little bean, all tan in the sun. I wrote in the hammock. Then the crying began at the vineyard.
Who needs pool chlorine or make-up remover when you spend the weekend crying? I was quite the opposite of upset; I was overjoyed. Simply put, I am in LOVE with my friends. In love, like I want to squeeze them and not let go, but I’m afraid I’ll hurt them with how hard I want to squeeze. Once we were mostly all seated in our tasting room, Amy suggested they go around the table and tell their Stephanie stories. How we met or how I changed their lives. They each began with “I love Stephanie because…” How could I NOT cry from that? It was so special, hearing things I didn’t know. Learning how much of an impact I have in their lives. Of course, I couldn’t keep shut and insisted on doing the same. So I went around the table and told everyone how special each of them are to me. That’s when everyone else began to cry.
My phone buzzed. Monique made it after all! I scooped her up from Candy Kitchen, and scurried her back home for some dinner. Then came food, a Buttercup Cafe delicious cake, Amy’s homemade lasagna,and lots of thoughtful, very meaningful, gifts. In truth, and this is not at all bullshite… the real gift was having each of them there with me. I felt so special and blessed.
I also felt sad. Two of my closest friends weren’t there. I phoned each of them. Wait! Michael was on his way, driving from a wedding he’d attended in Philadelphia. He arrived during a viewing of My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Now I felt better. I couldn’t have imagined a better birthday had I wished for it when I blew out the candles. And to round it off, Sunday night, Monique stayed in the city with me to see Reese Witherspoon in Just Like Heaven. Where we rounded off the weekend with more tears, followed by ice cream. Not bad at all.