the best gift of all

There were five candles on my birthday cake. “What’s this?” I wondered, “One for each decade?” 🙂 I decided that the candles symbolized five days of celebration. Truly, this has been one of the sweetest birthdays I recall. (Which is to choose NOT to go into detail about the cows I kept seeing with their tails in the air and certain good luck well wishes if you step in poop.)
We started last Wednesday: dinner with “cricket-playing Indians” and “soccer-playing Romanians.” The dishes were palatable (no one got sick!) and the laughter delightful. The spirit of Sam in that salvaged margarita mix imbued us all with good cheer. (It probably didn’t hurt that it is also the end of the semester.)
Thursday I felt as if my students were giving me presents, although I doubt the conceived of their final papers as anything other than basic academic obligation. Some days I wonder if the amount of gratification I receive from watching my students grow is disproportionate in comparison with all the things that make life meaningful, but the simple truth is that I am deeply pleased when they do well.
Friday was a surprise. 🙂 A planned camping trip was cancelled because of inclement weather, leaving me available for a spontaneous evening with a very special person. And Saturday was amazing. Just-in-Time and Very-Private-Person treated me to three-meals-in-one at the Dhaba Cafe in Boston. Food and talk, talk and food. I received phone calls, texts, emails, and thoughts throughout the day. Geez. I could hardly contain my sheepish pleasure while celebrating the Australian legacy for hours and hours Saturday night.
Sunday was sweet and mellow: a day without pressure. I could probably use a few more days like these, but then again, the contrast with the more usual, daily busy-ness of all I am called to do is part of what endows the slow days with such satisfaction.
Five days of stellar human company; you see how it gets to me?! I become more mushily sentimental all the time. 🙂 The confluence of all these interactions and encounters is the best gift of all: many of you did not even know it was my birthday. Proof-positive I am blessed with friends. (That, or just a damn good moocher.)
Emily-the-Strange’s horrorscope changes daily, but note that the “Day of Dissonance” arrives soon!

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