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February 2010
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Coming home was the best birthday present

I’ll fess up. I deliberately scheduled travel on my birthday because I wanted to hide from it. I’m not bothered by getting older. I’m quite happy to tell people my age (37). I know that aging has some unpleasant things in store for me eventually, but I’m just not worried about it yet. I was hiding from the cloud of expectations around my birthday. The trip itself needed to happen for many reasons, but traveling on my birthday was hiding. I wish I could claim that this was a fully self-aware choice. It wasn’t. Only in hindsight am I able to see the whys behind my decisions.

I have five people in my immediate family who love me dearly. They want to surprise and delight me for my birthday. I would love to be surprised and delighted, partly because it is fun, but even more because my delight would make them happy. But it is really hard to surprise someone who is expecting it. And it is just as hard not to expect anything for your birthday when you know that something is being planned.

So this year I turned my birthday into a travel day. As I expected, the necessities of travel completely overshadowed the birthday. The expense of travel was put into the budget instead of gifts. Then I arrived at my mother’s house and discovered a party waiting for me. It was a lovely party, pleasantly low-key. And the gifts were all well chosen. With Key Lime Pie. (Note to my subconscious: if you’re trying to avoid birthday stuff, don’t travel to Mom’s house when you know how much she loves to give gifts and celebrate with parties. Also, why don’t you just tell me what you’re trying to accomplish? That would be so much simpler.)

The remainder of the weekend was spent in celebration of other people’s birthdays and I enjoyed it all. I loved seeing Gleek and Patch play games together as the only kids at Grandma’s house. I loved seeing my Grandma watch my kids. I loved standing in the hallway out of sight and listening to my Mom tell stories to an excited pair of children. I loved watching idiotic made-for-tv science fiction movies with my Dad. I loved hugging my Grandma and listening to her stories. I want to do all of those things again soon. (Except maybe the idiotic Sci Fi movies. We can pick something better next time.)

But time came to go home. The kids were sorry to leave and glad to go at the same time. I felt the same. Then we landed in Utah and it was one of those bright winter days where the sky is so blue you could swim in it. And Howard was there at the curb waiting for us with a big smile and hugs for everyone. And the kitchen was clean with a vase of fresh flowers just for me. And several people left birthday cards while I was gone. And Link hugged me like he never wanted to let go again. Then he whispered “Happy Birthday Mom.” And Kiki’s eyes lit up as she walked in the front door to see me already home. And she hugged me like she never wanted to let go again. And Howard bought the most adorable little dish scrubbers that have suction cups so they stand like little people on the edge of the sink. And that last thing is a little bit silly to list with all the rest, but every single thing about coming home made me feel so happy.

I am so glad for my life. I am glad for my family. I am glad to be here. I am ready to dive into tomorrow and get everything done so that we can get the next Schlock book out on schedule. I am excited to do the exact same things that were oppressing me before the trip. Life is good. I had a great birthday.

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