I’m turning 50 later this year and there are big plans in the making. I’m not privy to some of them, but it looks like I’ll be celebrating in West Virginia – my favorite place on the planet – with HM O’Keefe – my favorite man on the planet. (I still think of Chef Boy ‘R Mine as a boy – something he would vociferously debate, but I’m the mom and I said so.)
Until a few years ago, I didn’t do much to celebrate the yearly event. My family is low-keyed about birthdays. Once we left childhood, birthdays weren’t particularly a big deal. They were celebrated, oh yes, but not in any grand style or with much hoopla.
Turning 50 is not particularly bothering me, but it does seem like a time to be reflective. First and foremost, it’s mind bending to think I can be that old. The essential me doesn’t feel any older than I did at 25. At 13, I felt older than 10. At 25, I felt older than 18. From then on, it’s as if mind and spirit quit aging. (The body is in rapid decline, but we needn’t talk about that. Today, for example, my knees feel like they’re 72.) I’ve gained wisdom and experience since then (presumably), but I don’t feel as old as my birth certificate would indicate. Of course, there are almost 5 months between now and then, so maybe in August I’ll wake up with some dramatically different perspective. I don’t think so, but I’m wrong about half the time.
HM O’Keefe is largely responsible for the hedonistic bacchanals that are now my birthday celebrations. I’ve come to appreciate his point of view – birthdays are special days and should be not just be feted, but should be set aside and celebrated to their core.
I caught on pretty quick, hedonist that I am. The day became a week. The week became a month. One cycle of the moon should be enough for anyone, but we’ll see.
Today is his birthday.
While we haven’t always been together on his birthday, we’ve managed to see one another within a few weeks of it. Not this year. I can’t get to Boston and I won’t let him come here. (And he’s disappointed with me about that, but it’s a long story and rational people would agree with me.)
So, I’ve been thinking about his birthday and how to celebrate it. And damnation, if it hasn’t had me stumped. The man is impossible. This year, it’s like he’s going out of his way to make it even harder. Plan A fell apart. Plan B was far-fetched at best. Plan C was just dumb. Plan G seemed workable, but then the man who has a deep abiding belief that birthdays should be celebrated and honored made his own damn plans.
Plan A was to take him to Mexico – one of his favorite spots on the planet. He celebrated his 50th there. Mexico is my second most favorite spot on the planet, so it wasn’t like I was being all passive aggressive or something. But the lawyers and the doctors and the economy all conspired against us.
From there on in, it was downhill.
The next best thing to Mexico is a great gift, right? A thing of some sort. Ah.
I pondered. I mused. I thought really hard. I even made a brainstorming list. I’m anti-stuff these days, but I don’t think that’s it. He’s just really, really difficult to buy for.
In truth, he’s impossible.
Books. You would think books would be a good idea. I had more books than anybody I know and then I met him. I’ve got a 1/100th of a shot of getting him a book he doesn’t already have. Scratch that idea.
Orange blossoms! There we go. First of all, he likes getting flowers. Second, during our courtship and his convincing of me to celebrate birthdays with wild abandon, he told me how growing up in Southern California his birthday was always scented by the spring blossoming of the orange groves. It’s a fond memory for him.
It seems that orange growers can’t be convinced to lop off future fruit and mail it to Boston. I asked. I pleaded. I groveled. They said no. Often rudely. (I’ve been calling florists, orange groves, and fruit exchanges for a few years now. I’m getting good at groveling and they’re getting better at saying no.)
Clothes. Well, that’s another problem. Don’t ask – definitely too much information. Scratch wardrobe enhancing.
He really likes Mexican talavera. West Virginia isn’t exactly bursting at the seams with Mexican pottery -or orange blossoms, for that matter. Choosing something online is daunting especially when they tack on “item shipped may not look exactly as pictured due to artistic variations.” I’m fussy. Ask anyone. He’s worse.
I think he’d like a super-duper camera – you know – the kind that would make all the camera geeks drool. But, um, well, I’m poor.
He’d like more time with his daughter. I’d like more time with my son. You raise your kids to be independent, responsible, and fully engaged in life and damned if they don’t up and do it. Some of them sooner than later. Besides, I can just picture that phone call. “Listen, hon, I need you stop what you’re doing, get on a plane and go spend your dad’s birthday with him. It’s the only thing I can think of to give him for his birthday. . .What?. . Oh. . . A visit from you.. . . Am I paying for what?. . . Um. No.”
So you see what I’m up against. It’s even worse than all that. He’s very talented at gift giving. It’s always perfect and often it’s something I didn’t know I wanted until he gave it to me.
So, there is this – a love letter of sorts. The guy is wired nine ways to Sunday, so between the Blackberry, the laptop, portable hard drives, thumb drives, and the desktops, he can read it anytime he wants, anywhere he goes. Web 2.0 has gotten out of hand. It’s only fitting. Really.
We met online.
If you’re still here, y’all can quit reading now.
Te amo, Dragonman.. Next year, Mexico (or West Virginia, I’ll probably still be poor).