Saturday night, after working the entire day, I headed out with Leslie. We enjoyed a relaxing dinner at Tamarind Seed, a Thai restaurant that proves delicious ethnic cuisine does exist south of the Mason/Dixon. We then crossed the street to hear Rachel Maddow speak. Her words were humble and intelligent, savvy and accessible. I left reminded that, regardless of your political stance, the best opinions are informed ones.
Yesterday Leslie surprised me with a massage. The muscle kneading was followed up by lunch at Cardamom Hill, a local eatery that has been recognized (deservedly so) by James Beard. Because apparently a mani/pedi the previous day wasn't enough of an indulgence, my paws all sparkly and groomed. For twenty-four hours, I pretended to be a lady who lunched (and loved every minute of it).
This morning, following a late night of an Eric Clapton concert, I awakened to Anders and Olivia singing me happy birthday while Leslie held a plate with a Boston cream donut. A single candle was stabbed in the middle with a small flame glittering in the darkness of early morning. Barley even shuffled from his sleep to chime in.
Tonight, after a long and frustrating day of working, I closed up my computer and went up the street to enjoy some tacos. Seated with my family, sipping a frozen margarita topped with sangria, I exhaled. I finally stopped to pause and enjoy the day. There was conversation to be had, food to be eaten, and an loud Mexican ensemble singing Happy Birthday so loud I couldn't help but shrink into the booth and blush.
In between it all, friends and family, people who know me well and only know me from afar, took time out of their day to send along birthday wishes. I received an email from a friend who is a dive master in Thailand. I received a card from a close college friend who has had to work seven days a week to make things come together. There were text messages and Facebook updates, all from people hitting pause for a few moments if only to make my day special.
Tomorrow I'm grabbing a flight to Philadelphia. I will need to work but when I land, I will be greeted by my good friend Joe who has promised to keep the Champagne O'ramas flowing well into the night. Saturday I will meet up with more friends and family members. Sunday I will celebrate Easter, a tradition this Jewish gal excitedly embraces. If all goes well, I will sneak over to the Barnes on Monday before grabbing a Chicago-bound flight for work.
I didn't go into this week with any expectations. To me, age is just a number. I know plenty of immature fifty-something men and stick-in-the-mud twenty-something women. Instead, I see turning forty as an opportunity to take stock. In the last year, I've spent a tremendous amount of time trying to become a better woman. Sometimes the result is success. Other times I'm a clumsy mess with a funky cowlick on the back of my head. At least I'm trying. Though it does help to have loved ones cheering you on, picking you up, and embracing you no matter what. These people also make turning forty pretty darn spectacular.