It's taken me exactly one week to finally absorb all the love directed at me on my 40th birthday. My cousin, Ryan - who is really more of a younger brother - orchestrated the event with quiet tenacity. Old friends flew in or drove from Oceanside, Long Beach, Yorba Linda and, amazingly, Albququerque.
Ironically, I fretted all week about weather.com's prediction that it would rain since we had envisioned an elaborate outdoor BBQ/firepit/deck scene. All those pretty lights we'd planned to put in the trees! How would we cook? Would everyone fit in the house? Not only did it rain but it was torrential, the Chronicle called it "the worst storm of the season." Sure, it may have kept a few folks away but my truest friends are the heartiest souls. We had about 50 folks who made the trek, including the hero of the evening, David Jacobson, who drove the birthday cake (a delicious green battlefield of cowboys and Indians) from Foster City.
Deep into the evening, my best friend, Lisa Friedman, presented to me a large black scrapbook that contained "Heather memories and photos" submitted by friends from various eras of my life. The effort it took for people to put their feelings down, for Lisa to collect and create the book was enough to knock me over. My magical friend, Heidi Nye, then stood to perform an exquisite poem she had written in my honor: "A Heather Resplendent."
In that delicate breathy voice of hers, unafraid and full of love, she spoke to the room about how she sees me, her friend, and . . . well, let's just say, it brought down the house. When she finished, there wasn't a dry eye in the house. Heidi's poems have that effect on people.
All of this and despite the rain, a firepit and BBQ thrived in the backyard, under a carefully placed blue tarp. The best part, guests continually complimented me on the quality of the other guests. The variety of people I choose to drag along with me in this life is deliberate and I take the matter very seriously.
For several days now, as I have prepared to take on all that is Christmas, I ponder the many coats of love and affection that were wrapped around me and I wonder, "Is this woman that they love the same woman who wears my skin every day?" If so, I'll have put all that fretful self-loathing on hold for a little while. At least until next year.
Merry Christmakuh all!
HEAD'S UP: This evening, I fly to New Orleans and will be posting blogs from the Gulf Coast until I return on January 3rd. I fear all my favorite places will be gone and the mood will be depressing. I will be ringing in the New Year with folks who got a clean slate whether they wanted one or not.