I don't think that I've ever had such a delightful birthday, before.
This is the second time in my life that I've had any sort of surprise for my birthday. The first time was about a quarter century ago, when my dear friend at work got a whole bunch of my co-workers to go into my office (we had offices with doors!), while I was in a next door office meeting with another co-worker. I started seeing a stream of people out of the corner of my eye, and I told my colleague to wait a minute - I wanted to find out what was going on! I went next door to my office - the door was closing behind someone, and I rushed to open it, and said, "hey - what's going on here - is there a party that I don't know about?" which was my standard line every time a group of people formed, anywhere, at any time, but this time I was greeted with "SURPRISE! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!" I was REALLY shocked and surprised because, well, it wasn't my birthday!!! At least, I was pretty sure that it was in a week or so. I said so, but Gerri, the instigator, looked back at me in surprise, and said "I thought that it was March 25th?!?!" And I said "Yes! But that's next week!" Well, double-surprise for me - the 25th was THAT DAY, not a week later! The days flitted by, quickly, even back then!
This year, a different instigator was at work: a running buddy, Chris. She got another running buddy, Mary, to create an excuse to get together ("I'll be in Beaverton for a meeting on Tues. - how about we get together, then, or will you be around for the Thurs. run?" - my birthday was on Wednesday). I opted for the Tues. dinner, as I was also expecting to be in Beaverton on Tuesday. She later came up with a dinner place in Portland, which was odd, given that she and I would both be in Beaverton, but, hey, I didn't think much about that aspect. I did suspect that she was brewing a surprise birthday party for me, though.
On the appointed day, Tuesday, traffic was light, so I wound up getting into the area of the restaurant, early, so I parked the car, and waited - I didn't want to spoil the surprise, if there were to be one, and I thought that maybe I could catch sight of people going into the restaurant. Except that I wasn't actually parked where I could see the entrance, and I was preoccupied with the news, and so if there were people going in, I didn't notice. I finally got around to going to the restaurant about 15 minutes early, and when I walked in, I looked around, and saw just a few random people in the restaurant - no group, no Mary. Hmmmmm, maybe there would be no surprise, after all, and it would simply be Mary and me for dinner, just as she'd indicated? That would be great, too! I figured that I should wait outside for her. I turned to go out, and as I did so, I caught sight of a woman with a sort of guilty look on her face, which made me give her a second glance. She was hugging someone, looking over his shoulder, and looking at me. Wait a minute - I KNOW that woman?!?! Why is she here? Chris?????!!!!! Oh my gosh, it IS a surprise party, after all!!!! And then I realized that the guy that she was hugging was Hoa (you've heard of him from many of my previous adventures) and next to him, his wife, Phuong, both of whom I must have followed into the restaurant! And, oh, those other random people - why they were Bob (captain of the infamous raft that overturned in the river during ghost month, with some of my Taiwan friends in it), and his wife, Sharon! Mary did, eventually, show up, with several other friends and running buddies, and we had a great dinner (at least, *I* had a great dinner!).
I was struck by how I could completely not see people that I know, and know quite well, because I was looking for someone else, and how I could be completely surprised, even though I actually exPECTed a surprise! I didn't have to "act" surprised, because I WAS surprised!
On my actual birthday, I received that really sweet email from my brother, which I sent around to my email list, and received ever so many delightful and sweet responses from so many people. That evening, Deb, with whom I went to high school (in Michigan!), but who now lives in Oregon, made a yummy dinner for me, her family, another friend and her family, helping me to make those first, hesitant steps into the second half century of my life. I hardly noticed the transition. . . However, now, I have bragging rights! I've joined the 1/2 century club! If I want to, I can now join AARP (I assume that it stands for: American Association of Retired People - but, it's funny, because no where in their literature do they actually say what AARP stands for!)! This is truly FUN!!!! I now understand the desire that many of my friends, who are already in the highly esteemed 1/2 century club, have to commemorate this with some sort of meaningful event (run a 50-mile ultra-marathon, or go for a 50-mile backpack, or eat 50 bars of chocolate (I'm working on that one!)). I think that if I had the time, I'd try for climbing 50 mountains this year, but, well, that's the other thing - I don't expect to have that sort of time -my year's leave of absence ends April 30th. In one respect, I feel as though I've had the biggest birthday present, ever - a year off! And, if Intel management accepts me back (they have no requirement to do so), then I won't have time for such a lofty goal as 50 climbs. . . If they don't accept me back, well, then, I guess I'd better start planning those 50 climbs!!!!